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Man dies at Berlin U-Bahn station after being pushed in front of oncoming train

German police are investigating after a fatal incident which saw a man pushed in front of an oncoming train at a U-Bahn station in Berlin's trendy Kreuzberg area.

Man dies at Berlin U-Bahn station after being pushed in front of oncoming train
A train arrives at the U-Bahn station Kottbusser Tor. Photo: DPA

Police are looking into whether the man was deliberately pushed in front of the train at the Kottbusser Tor U-Bahn station in the popular Berlin district.

According to police, two groups had clashed with each other around midnight on Tuesday. Then, one man pushed another man in front of an arriving train. 

He was so badly injured that he died shortly after the incident.

The police questioned witnesses and viewed video recordings of the scene, reported the Berliner Morgenpost.

A homicide squad has taken over the investigation, stated Berlin's police department on Twitter.

The suspect fled the scene immediately following the incident.

Police are currently evaluating CCTV footage for additional information on the identity of the victim and the other people involved.

Following the incident, U-Bahn traffic was temporarily interrupted and there were significant delays on the U8 line. The driver of the train who hit the man was looked after by pastors.

In 2018, Kottbuser Tor was deemed to be Berlin's second most dangerous U-Bahn station, based on 119 injuries recorded there in 2017.

Other incidents

The shocking crime follows a spate of similar incidents which have sparked a national debate about security at railway stations in Germany.

In July this year, an eight-year-old boy was killed when he was pushed under a high-speed train at Frankfurt's main station by a man.

His mother was also pushed onto the tracks but was able to save herself.

In July, a woman was pushed in front of a train at the station in the small town of Voerde, near Duisburg, in North Rhine-Westphalia. The 34-year-old mother-of-one died at the scene.

Earlier this year, a 41-year-old woman pulled an unknown 17-year-old by her hair onto train tracks at the U-Bahn at Berlin’s central Alexanderplatz station. The teenager managed to save herself before a train arrived. 

In 2016, a 20-year-old woman also died after she was pushed in front of U-Bahn tracks in Berlin by a mentally ill man.

READ ALSO: How Germany plans to improve safety at railway stations

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WILDFIRES

‘Unprecedented’: How explosions and fires have rocked Berlin’s Grunewald forest

An "unprecedented" fire broke out on Thursday around a German police munitions storage site in a Berlin forest. Here's how events unfolded and the reaction.

'Unprecedented': How explosions and fires have rocked Berlin's Grunewald forest

What happened?

Emergency services were called out after explosions were heard in the ‘Grunewald’ forest in western Berlin in the early hours of Thursday morning. 

It then emerged that a fire had broken out near a police munitions storage site, all on one of the hottest days of the year when temperatures were forecast to reach around 38C in the German capital. 

As explosions continued at the site, sending debris flying into the air, firefighters weren’t initially able to get near the flames to extinguish it. Emergency services set up a 1,000-metre safety zone around the area.

This aerial photo taken by the Berlin Fire Brigade shows the fire in Grunewald.

This aerial photo taken by the Berlin Fire Brigade shows the fire in Grunewald. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Berliner Feuerwehr

Later on Thursday afternoon, Berlin fire brigade spokesman Thomas Kirstein said the situation was “under control and there was no danger for Berliners” but that the fire was expected to last for some time.

No one has been hurt by the fires. Around 250 emergency workers were deployed to the site.

READ ALSO: Blasts ring out as forest fire rages in Berlin’s Grunewald

How was the fire being tackled?

The German army (Bundeswehr) was called in. They sent a tank aimed at evacuating munitions at the affected storage site as well as remote-controlled de-mining robots, while drones circled the air to assess the emergency.

Water cannons were also deployed around the safety zone to prevent the fire from spreading.

Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey interrupted her holiday to visit the scene, calling the events “unprecedented in the post-war history of Berlin”.

Giffey advised people in Berlin to close their windows but said the danger was minimal as there were no residential buildings within a two-kilometre (1.2-mile) radius and so no need to issue evacuation orders.

Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey speaks at the scene of the forest fire on Thursday

Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey speaks at the scene of the forest fire on Thursday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

“It would be much more difficult if there were residential buildings nearby,” she said.

What caused the blaze?

That’s still unclear. Police say they are investigating what started the fire exactly. 

The store in question holds munitions uncovered by police, but also unexploded World War II-era ordnance which is regularly dug up during construction works.

Giffey said local authorities would “have to think about how to deal with this munitions site in the future and whether such a place is the right one in Berlin”.

Is Grunewald a popular site?

Very much so. The sprawling forest on the edge of Berlin is home to lots of hiking trails and is even near some popular lakes, such as the Krumme Lanke. It’s also near the Wannsee and Havel river. 

Map shows where the fire broke out in Berlin's Grunewald

Map shows where the fire broke out in Berlin’s Grunewald. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa Grafik | dpa-infografik GmbH

Authorities appealed for the public to avoid the forest, which is regularly visited by both locals and tourists.

Deutsche Bahn said regional and long-distance transport was disrupted due to the blaze.

A part of the Avus motorway between Spanischer Allee and Hüttenweg was also closed in both directions, as well as Kronprinzessinnenweg and Havelchaussee, according to the Berlin traffic centre.

Aren’t forest fires and strong heat causing problems elsewhere?

Yes. Authorities on Thursday said no firefighting choppers were available as they were already in use to calm forest fires in eastern Germany.

However, they also said the 1,000-metre safety zone applied to the air, so there was a limit to how useful it would be to drop water on the fire from above.

The German capital is rarely hit by forest fires, even though its 29,000 hectares of forests make it one of the greenest cities in the world.

Brandenburg, the region surrounding Berlin, as well as parts of eastern Germany have for days been battling forest fires.

Parts of Germany were also recently hit by forest fires during heatwaves this summer. 

Temperatures were expected to climb as high as 40C across parts of Germany on Thursday. However, it is set to cool down on Friday and thunderstorms are set to sweep in from the west.

With reporting by AFP’s David COURBET

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