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Travel chaos as deadly storm strikes Germany

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Travel chaos as deadly storm strikes Germany
A fallen tree lies on three cars in Düsseldorf's Cecillienallee. Photo: DPA
08:58 CET+01:00
At least one person died after a storm dubbed "Eberhard" wreaked havoc across Germany.

Trees fell, buildings were damaged and the traffic network was severely hit as high winds and rain battered western and southern parts of the country, signalling that winter isn't quite over yet despite the recent mild temperatures.

SEE ALSO: Storms threaten carnival celebrations across western Germany

SEE ALSO: Germany's first outdoor pool to open as temperatures climb above 20C

A 47-year-old man died near Bestwig in the Sauerland region when an uprooted tree fell on the car he was driving.

On Sunday afternoon, train operator Deutsche Bahn cancelled services in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the most populous federal state, with far-reaching consequences for the entire country.

The German Weather Service (DWD) urged people to look out for weather updates.

Passengers travelling on Monday were warned to expect knock-on delays and cancellations as the clean-up got underway.

A notice on the website said: “The clean-up work is still going on. We assume, however, that the storm damage will still lead to impairments in Deutsche Bahn's rail traffic today.”

Long-distance and regional trains were in operation on Monday morning but there were still some disturbances.

"Commuters should expect delays and keep up to date with the latest information," a spokeswoman for Deutsche Bahn said Monday.

A "stable operation" on the network was in place Monday, however, some services were cancelled, including on the high-speed line between Cologne and Frankfurt am Main.

There were still restrictions on the routes between Cologne - Dortmund, Altenbeken - Hamm (Westphalia) and between Rosenheim and Kufstein.

A noticeboard at Cologne main station shows the train cancellations and delays. Photo: DPA

Meanwhile, Deutsche Bahn said tickets held by affected customers that are valid for Sunday and Monday will remain valid for long-distance transport, and can either be cancelled free of charge or used flexibly until a week after the end of the disruption.

There were also cancellations at airports, including in Frankfurt am Main. At Cologne/Bonn Airport, two planes had to be diverted to other airports because of the strong gusts.

Village cut off, fallen trees cause danger

In Hagen, NRW, the storm tore off metre-high cladding from a 14-storey high-rise building, reported Focus Online. Fire and rescue teams secured the damaged area. Residents were initially not allowed to leave the high-rise due to the dangerous situation.

On the A7 near Kirchheim in Hesse a tree fell onto the road, blocking the hard shoulder and the main traffic lane. The police secured the area and closed part of the motorway.

In Duisburg, NRW, a loading crane weighing several tons was blown over and half of it landed in the river Rhine. Fortunately, the cab was unoccupied at the time. Ship traffic had to be routed around the danger area.

In Rhineland-Palatinate, the storm damaged the town hall in Bitburg. In Trier, a tree fell on a car that was being driven. The driver was unharmed, a spokesman for the fire brigade said.

Meanwhile, in Thuringia, a village was cut off from the outside world. Several trees fell and blocked the only connecting road to Föritztal-Mönchsberg (in the Sonneberg district), according to police. Electricity in the village was also cut off.

In Baden-Württemberg and parts of Bavaria as well as Saxony, the German Weather Service (DWD) warned of hurricane-like gusts. On Feldberg in the Black Forest, wind speeds of up to 150 kilometres per hour were measured.

SEE ALSO: Pollen at unusually high levels amid early spring in Germany

Throughout the region, several ski lifts ceased operation, according to a spokesperson for the lift operators. According to the police headquarters, there were about 900 storm-related deployments throughout Bavaria on Sunday evening.

In Backnang near Stuttgart a tree fell on a house. The fire brigade rushed to the scene and closed off the area, while additional rescue teams were requested. Nobody was reportedly injured, however, there was substantial damage to the house. 

Firefighters in Frankfurt try to secure the tin roof of a church tower in the district of Gallus, which had been torn loose by the storm. Photo: DPA

Winter weather returns

On Monday, Germany can expect wet weather, with some areas facing hailstones or snow; a sure sign that spring hasn't fully arrived yet.

A man walks with a child to the bus stop in the snow near Kassel, Hesse. Photo: DPA.

Across the country, icy conditions were expected. The German Weather Service (DWD) also predicted occasional rain and snow showers in Berlin/Brandenburg, Wiesbaden, Erfurt and parts of Baden-Württemberg, with lows of 2C.

According to meteorologists, the rain and snow showers will decrease during Monday night, but there is a danger of it being slippery underfoot due to the wet ground freezing over. 

Marcus Beyer, of the DWD, said the weather will remain "changeable" for the rest of the week, with some further high winds, stormy weather and cold air.

 
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