One dead, one missing after floods sweep through Bavarian hiking trail

Emergency services have recovered the body of a woman in southern Bavaria after heavy rainfall caused a bridge in a tourist spot to collapse on Monday afternoon, causing people to be swept away by the tide. One person is still missing.

One dead, one missing after floods sweep through Bavarian hiking trail
Employees of the emergency services search for the missing in the alpine southern regions on Bavaria, near the Austrian border, on Monday, August 16th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Peter Kneffel

According to media reports, a tidal wave rushed through the Höllentalklamm gorge in the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen during the torrential downpour, sweeping away several people. Eight were brought to safety by rescue workers.

READ ALSO: Flood waters sweep people away in Bavaria bridge collapse

Six of them were rescued from the ravine where they had been trapped by the floods, while two others were brought to safety from further up the gorge. They were soaked through and suffering from hypothermia, but otherwise well, a police spokesman told DPA on Monday evening.

However, eyewitnesses reported that two people were unable to be rescued after the wooden bridge they were standing on collapsed due to the force of the tide. 

More than 160 rescuers were deployed to search for the missing people, including specially trained canyon rescuers from the mountain rescue service and four helicopters. On Monday evening, the search had to be broken off after nightfall.

Body of a woman recovered

The search continued again on Tuesday morning from 7:30am. At 8:30am, according to police, the body of a woman was spotted lifeless in the water and subsequently recovered by the mountain rescue services.

Though the woman is presumed to be one of the two missing people who were spotted on the collapsed bridge, further investigations into the identity and circumstances of the death are being carried out by officers of the criminal investigation department.

Now, the search continues for the other missing person. Rescuers are said to be looking for pieces of evidence, such as scraps of clothing, under the collapsed bridge.

READ ALSO: Clean-up underway in Bavaria after heavy floods wreak havoc

According to head of rescue operations Hans Steinbrecher, the hunt for the missing has been made more difficult due to the hazardous and wet conditions in the flooded gorge.

“In the gorge itself, nobody can enter the water – not even the rescuers,” he told told “That would also be fatal for them.”

A beloved hiking spot

The incident took place high in the alps near the Austrian border, where several famous hiking routes weave through the mountains. 

Tens of thousands of people hike through the Höllentalklamm gorge every year, with most visitors flocking to the hiking hotspot in summer.

With its waterfalls and steep rock faces, the gorge is not only a popular spot for photographs, but also a well-trodden route up to Germany’s highest mountain, the 2962-metre-high Zugspitze.

After Monday’s floods, the route up to the Höllentalklamm has been blocked off until further notice.

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Tornado in western Germany injures dozens

Almost 40 people were injured, several seriously, on Friday in a suspected tornado which hit the western German city of Paderborn, the police and fire brigade said.

Tornado in western Germany injures dozens

A police spokesman said the tornado also caused significant damage in the city in the North Rhine-Westphalia state, following abnormally high temperatures for the time of year.

The city’s fire department said on Twitter that “38 injured people, including some gravely” had been taken to hospital. The police said one person was fighting for their life.

Paderborn, fire service added, “Please do not drive to Paderborn on your own without prior agreement of help. If necessary, further units of the fire brigade will be alerted and called in.”

In neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate state, a 38-year-old man died after he was electrocuted when he entered his flooded basement and fell on his head, the police in the city of Koblenz said.

Railway travel was disrupted in the west of the country, as police called on people to remain indoors.

In Paderborn, police estimated the damage caused by the tornado at “several million” euros.

The spokesman reported “roofs torn off, windows shattered and numerous trees uprooted throughout the city”.

View of destroyed cars on a street. A tornado caused massive damage in Paderborn and Lippstadt on Friday 20th May 2022.

View of destroyed cars on a street after a tornado caused massive damage in Paderborn and Lippstadt on Friday 20th May 2022. Photo: Picture Alliance/Dpa/Friso Gentsch

Images posted on social media showed the tornado column progressing towards homes, sweeping away trees and building sections. Other pictures from the wider region showed cars that had been upturned.

The town of Lippstadt, about 30 kilometres away (18 miles), was also probably hit by a tornado, a fire department spokesperson said, though no injuries had been recorded. The steeple of the church in Lippstadt had been destroyed by the high winds.

People stand in front of the St. Clemens Catholic Church in Hellinghausen near Lippstadt, the top of which was destroyed. A suspected tornado caused massive damage in Lippstadt on Friday 21st May 2022. Photo: Picture alliance/DPA/Friso Gentsch

German meteorological services had put out a storm warning for Friday and predicted gales of up to 130 km/h (80 miles/h) in some places.

The bad weather first hit the west of the country and was set to travel eastwards.