Two killed as storm front batters Germany

Two people were killed, several people injured and thousands more had their electricity cut after a storm front causing hundreds of thousands of euros of damage battered Germany on Wednesday night.

Two killed as storm front batters Germany
Photo: DPA

A 57-year-old woman drowned when her canoe overturned on Lake Constance near Radolfzell in the storm, while a 77-year-old woman was crushed to death by a strawberry stand which collapsed on top of her. A five-year-old girl was also seriously hurt when a branch torn from a tree smashed into her family’s car in Heidenheim.

Roofs were torn up and cellars were flooded with rainwater as drains were blocked by leaves and other debris while winds ripped up trees and pushed them over.

In the Rhine-Main area, traffic ground to a halt because of the heavy rain, with drivers stuck on the A5 motorway for 25 kilometres near Bad Homburg. The fire department in Frankfurt was called out around 30 times to pump out flooded cellars.

Bavaria was hit with hail storms which caused further damage. One man was seriously hurt after a tree crashed down on a garden hut in Riedering. He was taken to hospital by helicopter.

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Several boats ended up floating around on the Chiemsee after being torn from their moorings. One farmer in Bamberg had terrible luck with the roof of a machine hall being torn off by the wind, which destroyed his newly installed solar electricity generation system worth around €200,000.

The Berlin fire department declared an emergency for around 90 minutes, putting 23 volunteer fire services on alert, as more than 130 weather-related calls were answered. These included fallen trees blocking train lines and electricity cables resulting in disruption on the connections to Dresden and Frankfurt an der Oder.

Around 50,000 households were cut off from electricity in Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg after a number of pylons were brought down by the storm. Even late into the night around 21,000 houses were still blacked out, while it remained uncertain when supply might be restored.

The A4 motorway near Schorba in Thuringia was closed in both directions due to fallen trees while the heavy rainfall made driving treacherous. One woman was seriously injured in Baden-Württemberg when a silo collapsed in the storm and hit her.


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2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.