21 endangered leeches confiscated from traveller at Hamburg Airport

The leeches had been smuggled into Hamburg from Turkey, police reported on Friday.

21 endangered leeches confiscated from traveller at Hamburg Airport
Leeches at a lab in Potsdam. Photo: DPA

A 63-year-old female traveller arriving from Turkey was stopped when her luggage went through security, and customs found a plastic bottle containing the long and slimy worms.

She had brought the 21 leeches along to help her with her knee pain, according to the police report.

Some clinical trials show that leach therapy can be a suitable treatment for the common joint disease osteoarthritis.

The animals were confiscated from the woman as she wasn’t able to show the proper export and import permits required to let them into Germany. She will likely face a fine.

After close examination, it was determined that the worms were a certain type of Hungarian leech which contain a typical 34 segments.

The species is listed as “particularly protected” on the European Union Species Protection Ordinance and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

“Over and over again my colleagues at Hamburg Airport come across live animals, plants or goods that travellers take with them without considering whether they are protected,” said a customs spokesman.

“We recommend holidaymakers leave behind everything that lives in their holiday countries. Or, as in this case, find out precisely about the import and export regulations,” the spokesman added.

In 2017, German customs nationwide identified 45,134 species-protected specimens, plants or goods in 934 cases. Of these figures, 26 cases and 149 species-protected specimens showed up at Hamburg Airport.

SEE ALSO: Woman finds 7-centimetre worm in fish fillet bought at German supermarket

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Emergency numbers fail in several German states

Callers to the emergency numbers 110 and 112 weren’t able to reach operators Thursday morning in several German states.

The 112 emergency number on an ambulance.
The 112 emergency number on an ambulance. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

The emergency number 110 for police and 112 for fire crews failed around the country early Thursday morning, with callers unable to reach emergency operators for urgent assistance between about 4:30 am and 5:40 am local time.

The Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Aid is looking into these outages, which were reported in states including Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, and  Brandenburg, and in major cities like Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, and Frankfurt. Cologne was further affected by cuts to electricity, drinking water, and regular telephone services. Lower Saxony also saw disruptions to the internal phone networks of police and hospitals.

Emergency services are not reporting any more disturbances and people should be able to once again reach 110 and 112 around the country as normal.

Investigators are looking into the problem, but haven’t yet established a cause or any consequences that may have happened due to the outage. Provider Deutsche Telekom says they have ruled out the possibility of an attack by hackers.