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EARTHQUAKES

Southern Germany rattled by earthquake

A slight earthquake shook parts of southern Germany in the early hours of Monday.

Southern Germany rattled by earthquake
Photo: DPA

The epicentre of the earthquake, which had a magnitude of 3.8, was north of Albstadt in the Zollernalbkreis district, halfway between Stuttgart and Lake Constance, the southwest earthquake service reported. 

The tremors happened at 1.59am on Monday and were felt within a radius of about 30 kilometres.

The police in Tuttlingen reported that several residents called them during the night about the earthquake.  So far, no damage has been reported to the police.

Earthquakes with a magnitude between 2.5 and 5.4 on the Richter scale can often be felt and if they cause damage, it is usually only minor.

This summer a series of minor earthquakes have happened around the Lake Constance region. The strongest earthquake reached a magnitude of 3.7 and happened at the end of July.

Germany is situated in the middle of the Eurasian Plate and isn't particularly prone to huge earthquakes, but there are still some tremors recorded here. The country is transected by parts of the European Cenozoic Rift System, particularly in the Upper and Lower Rhine areas and these remain active today.

Most of the quakes occur in this area but there are also zones around the northern edge of the Alps, Lake Constance and in the Leipzig plain.

The map below shows the most at-risk zones in Germany. The red zones have the highest risk of earthquakes.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

However, earthquakes can also cause major damage in Germany. That was demonstrated by the tremors registered in April 1992 in the border region between Germany and the Netherlands. The so-called Roermond earthquake had a magnitude of 5.3 and caused damage costing millions.

An earthquake in Albstadt in September 1978 was similar –- at that time the magnitude 5.7 was registered on the Richter scale.

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LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the ‘die’ and carnival lingo

From the push to reform long-term unemployment benefits to the lingo you need to know as Carnival season kicks off, we look at the highlights of life in Germany.

Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the 'die' and carnival lingo

Deadlock looms as debates over Bürgergeld heat up 

Following a vote in the Bundestag on Thursday, the government’s planned reforms to long-term unemployment benefits are one step closer to becoming reality. Replacing the controversial Hartz IV system, Bürgergeld (or Citizens’ Allowance) is intended to be a fair bit easier on claimants.

Not only will the monthly payment be raised from €449 to €502, but jobseekers will also be given a grace period of two years before checks are carried out on the size of their apartment or savings of up to €60,000. The system will also move away from sanctions with a so-called “trust period” of six months, during which benefits won’t be docked at all – except in very extreme circumstances. 

Speaking in parliament, Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) said the spirit of the new system was “solidarity, trust and encouragement” and praised the fact that Bürgergeld would help people get back into the job market with funding for training and education. But not everyone is happy about the changes. In particular, politicians from the opposition CDU/CSU parties have responded with outrage at the move away from sanctions.

CDU leader Friedrich Merz has even branded the system a step towards “unconditional Basic Income” and argued that nobody will be incentivised to return to work. 

The CDU and CSU are now threatening to block the Bürgergeld legislation when it’s put to a vote in the Bundesrat on Monday. With the conservatives controlling most of the federal states – and thus most of the seats in the upper house – things could get interesting. Be sure to keep an eye out for our coverage in the coming weeks to see how the saga unfolds. 

Tweet of the week

When you first start learning German, picking the right article to use can truly be a roll of the “die” – so we’re entirely on board with this slightly unconventional way to decide whether you’re in a “der”, “die”, or “das” situation. (Warning: this may not improve your German.) 

Where is this?

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

Residents of Frankfurt am Main and the surrounding area will no doubt recognise this as the charming town of Kronberg, which is nestled at the foot of the Taunus mountains.

This atmospheric scene was snapped on Friday morning, when a drop in temperatures saw Kronberg and surrounding forests shrouded in autumnal fog.

After a decidedly warm start to November, the mercury is expected to drop into single digits over the weekend. 

Did you know?

November 11th marked the start of carnival season in Germany. But did you know that there’s a whole set of lingo to go along with the tradition? And it all depends on where you are. First of all, the celebration isn’t called the same thing everywhere. In the Rhineland, it’s usually called Karneval, while people in Bavaria or Saxony tend to call it Fasching. Those in Hesse and Saarland usually call it Fastnacht. 

And depending on where you are, there are different things to shout. The ‘fools call’ you’ll hear in Cologne is “Alaaf!” If you move away from Cologne, you’ll hear “Helau!” This is the traditional cry in the carnival strongholds of Düsseldorf and Mainz, as well as in some other German cities.

In the Swabian-Alemannic language region in the southwest of the country, people yell “Narri-Narro”, which means “I’m a fool, you’re a fool”. In Saarland at the French border, they shout “Alleh hopp!”, which is said to originate from the French language. 

Lastly, if someone offers you a Fastnachtskrapfe, say yes because it’s a jelly-filled carnival donut. And if you’re offered a Bützchen? It’s your call, but know that it’s a little kiss given to strangers!

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