Some of the pupils had already completed competitions in long jump and shot put by the time the emergency workers arrived. An 800-metre race meant to take place in the blazing sun at noon was cancelled due to two school kids complaining of breathing problems.
Not long afterward, several other children between the ages of ten and twelve collapsed in the changing rooms, according to broadcaster NDR. A total of nine children were admitted to hospital as a precautionary measure over circulatory problems.
The school management later publicly apologized. In Hamburg, the schools themselves – not the school boards – decide whether events can take place even in high heat.
A spokesperson from the local fire brigade said that 47 rescue workers had been deployed to the track and field event, adding that the temperatures of around 30C combined with physical exertion were the cause of the pupils’ circulatory problems.
For the Hanseatic city, Tuesday was thus far the hottest day of the year. In the central quarter of Veddel, the mercury reached as high as 33.7C.
This surpasses the peak nationwide figure of 33.3C recorded by the German Weather Service (DWD) on Monday in the town of Genthin in Saxony-Anhalt.
“This has been the warmest day of the year to date,” said a DWD spokesman on Monday.
Elsewhere across the country, the hot, summer-like temperatures meant that thousands of pupils in Lower Saxony were let off from school early on Tuesday, reported Focus Online.
In the district of Lüneburg alone, more than 2,000 school kids were allowed to return home earlier on Tuesday, most of them from 11.30 am.
In the district of Bentheim on the border with the Netherlands, several students were allowed to return home early the previous day.
The decision on whether pupils can be let off school early due to excessively hot weather (referred to as Hitzefrei in German) is made on a case-by-case basis by the school principal if he or she believes the heat significantly impairs the learning environment.
Hitzefrei can only be called for pupils up to the tenth grade, meaning that older pupils and vocational students must remain in school until their last lesson.
The extreme heat is forecast to continue into the weekend. According to the DWD, in some German regions maximum temperatures could reach 33C on Friday and up to 29C on Saturday.