The cars and trucks were unable to avoid the pile-up, which spanned a one-kilometre stretch of the motorway near Augsburg around 7 am, police said. Major delays were expected as authorities shut down both directions of the autobahn for clean-up. The closure means those heading into the state's capital of Munich on that road will have to find an alternate route.
One eyewitness said the scene was “absolute chaos” and looked like a junkyard.
“We had very bad visibility, ice was not the main cause of the accidents,” a police officer said.
Police reported that about 80 people were hurt in the accident, 17 of whom were transported to nearby hospitals for severe injuries. Almost 200 rescuers were on hand and set up heated tents to conduct medical exams and treat the wounded.
Meanwhile another 20 vehicles were part of other accidents on a county road between Hunderdorf and Hermannsdorf in the Straubing-Bogen county. Police said driving conditions there were extremely icy and closed the road following three injuries resulting from the accidents.
Up to 30 centimetres of snow is expected in many parts of the country over the weekend, the German Weather Service (DWD) reported this week.