Pensioner crashes car into Hamburg shopping centre

An elderly man who had been trying to park his car drove into a shopping centre in the northern German city of Hamburg on Tuesday, a police spokesman said.

Pensioner crashes car into Hamburg shopping centre
The car ploughed into the department store. Photo: DPA

However police said that there were no signs of a terrorist act. 

The spokesman said police were treating the incident, which ended with the car coming to a stop in front of an escalator above an atrium – its front tyres precariously suspended in  mid-air – as an accident.

The 85-year-old driver and one other person were suffering from shock, police said.

The incident happened around 10.35am at Hamburg's largest shopping mall, the Alstertal-Einkaufszentrum, in the Poppenbüttel quarter.

Photo: DPA

The driver apparently lost control of his Mercedes car, drove up a flight of five stairs, and then crashed through a glass door into Galeria Kauhof.

“For an unexplained reason, an elderly man drove his SUV through the main entrance of the mall before stopping right on the edge,” a spokesman for Hamburg firefighters told AFP.

Despite the drama in the Galeria Kaufhof store, no one was seriously hurt, the spokesman told AFP, adding that two people taken to hospital were not in serious condition.

“It could have ended much more dramatically — 50 centimetres (20 inches) further and the car would have fallen over the edge and we could have expected a lot more injuries,” a senior firefighter told German newspaper Bild.

Handbag and shoe department

As the dramatic pictures show, the vehicle smashed into the handbag and shoe department of the store, crashed through the railing next to an escalator where it finally came to a standstill above an atrium.

A fire brigade spokesman told Norddeutscher Runfunk: “There could have been casualties here” but that, luckily, “nobody was harmed”.

The shopping centre was evacuated while police investigated the scene. The probe has now been passed on to traffic investigators.

Photo: DPA

The area was cordoned off while a huge clean-up got underway on Tuesday afternoon.

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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.