Massive storms have swept across Germany with severe damage and at least three tornadoes in the east of North Rhine-Westphalia. The city of Paderborn was hardest hit by the hurricane “Emmelinde” on Friday, where 43 people were injured, according to the police. Among other things, they were hit by roof tiles and injured by falling trees – 13 of them seriously. A woman was initially in mortal danger on Saturday.
In the Rhineland-Palatinate town of Wittgert, a 38-year-old man died when he suffered an electric shock when entering a flooded basement, which caused him to fall and probably hit his head, the police said.
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A wooden hut collapsed in Central Franconia, injuring a good dozen people. There were also hurricane-like gusts in other parts of Germany. In Leipzig, the rock band Rammstein interrupted their open-air concert with 40,000 spectators. After 15 minutes, the fans were allowed back inside – and continued to watch the show, sometimes soaking wet.
According to the German Weather Service (DWD), tornadoes occurred in Paderborn, Lippstadt and Lütmarsen, a district of the East Westphalian town of Höxter, in the most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia. A DWD spokesman explained that these three confirmed tornadoes formed in connection with particularly strong thunderstorms. There were other suspected tornado reports for Ratingen near Düsseldorf and from the Sauerland, which still had to be checked.
According to the police, extensive clean-up work was required in Paderborn, which was particularly affected. The main police building in Paderborn was also badly damaged. Mayor Michael Dreier (CDU) said on Saturday that in the heart of the city, where the new central bus station is being built, traffic lights were broken like matches. Crash barriers flew through the air like scraps of paper. Flying roof tiles would have “eaten” the facades of neighboring houses.
According to the authorities, the tornado caused extensive destruction in a corridor that was about 300 meters wide and ran more than five kilometers through the middle of the city. The police director of Paderborn, Ulrich Ettler, praised the helpfulness of many citizens, but also complained about the curiosity of some people: “Unfortunately, there were also some citizens who were so bold as to disregard barrier tapes and hinder the work of the rescue services.”
According to information from the police authorities in the Soest district, there were probably no injuries in the severe storm in Lippstadt. In the city center, however, areas initially remained cordoned off for safety reasons. NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) said: “The extent of the destruction left by the tornadoes in Lippstadt and Paderborn makes me sad.”
According to him, more than 7,500 emergency services deployed nationwide to rescue people or to free them from an emergency and to repair damage. A police officer was injured when he and colleagues tried to rescue two people from a jammed vehicle.
According to the Düsseldorf State Chancellery, NRW Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) also wanted to get a personal impression of the destruction in Lippstadt and Paderborn on Saturday afternoon. Paderborn Archbishop Hans-Josef Becker said on Saturday: “I am deeply dismayed by the extent of the severe storm yesterday afternoon and evening, which affected many other areas in the archdiocese in addition to the core city of Paderborn.”
In Bavaria, 14 people, including several children, were injured when a wooden hut collapsed in Spalt near the Großer Brombachsee. A 37-year-old was taken to a clinic with serious injuries, and a child was also flown to the hospital by helicopter. According to the police spokeswoman, several holidaymakers had apparently sought shelter in the 105 square meter hut in view of the storm. For an unknown reason, it then tipped to the side and collapsed.
After the violent storms in parts of Germany, hail, lightning and thunder are over for the rest of the weekend. “The new high “Zeus” jumps into the breach, but it doesn’t throw lightning around,” said a meteorologist from the German Weather Service (DWD) on Saturday in Offenbach. However, the next low could already cause further thunderstorms at the beginning of the new week on Monday.