Storm ‘Friederike’ batters Germany, 5 killed, trains cancelled

At least five persons were killed and many wounded Thursday by Storm ‘Friederike’, Germany’s heaviest, in 11 years, the German Press Agency (DPA) reported in an update.

The storm swept across Germany from the west. German Weather Service said it is the heaviest storm since 2007.

It brought powerful winds, heavy rain and snowfall to parts of Germany on Thursday, causing at least five fatalities and many injuries.

A 59-year old man was killed by a falling tree near Emmerich, and a 68-year-old man in North Rhine-Westphalia lost control of his transporter in strong winds and died.

In Thuringia, a firefighter was killed by a falling tree. A truck driver in Brandenburg died in a collision on expressway caused by strong winds, and a member of the volunteer fire department died in a storm operation in Sundern.

Meanwhile, all long-distance trains in Germany have been cancelled. A spokesperson of the German national railroad company Deutsche Bahn (DB) told the DPA that for safety reasons, long distance trains won’t be running until further notice, adding that disturbances caused by the storm are so serious.

Trains ceased operating entirely in the states of North-Rhine Westphalia and Lower Saxony earlier on Thursday, leaving many passengers stranded. The DB issued an apology for the inconvenience, but said it was unable to offer an estimate of when regular service would resume.

Furthermore, travel speeds of trains in other parts of Germany were slowed considerably in reaction to hurricane-strength gusts.

So far, extreme wind-strengths of up to 130 kilometers per hour have already been measured at higher elevations in Western Germany. Large amounts of snow fell closer to the Alps in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

The national meteorological service (DWD) has advised citizens to remain indoors in areas most-affected by the storm due to risks posed by falling debris, de-rooted trees and potential damage to power lines.

Schools in several German states remain closed for the day. Operations at major airports have been adversely affected by the weather as well. Flights were cancelled out of security concerns at Duesseldorf airport, while the Cologne and Bonn airports were forced to temporarily close down entirely.

In Poessneck of Thuringia, the roof of a school was demolished by a gust and landed in the schoolyard. Fortunately, students were left unscathed, according to DPA.

Meteorologists expect the current storm to travel on from Western Germany to the states of Saxony and Southern Brandenburg in the course of Thursday. Throughout the country, weather patterns will remain unsteady in the coming days while temperatures drop.

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