Killer Winds in Europe Expected to Cause Heavy Financial Loss | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 18.01.2007
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Killer Winds in Europe Expected to Cause Heavy Financial Loss

The storm that lashed northern Europe on Thursday is estimated to have caused more than one billion euros in damage to Germany, among the countries worst hit by the storm which killed at least 44 people across Europe.

Germany woke up to death and destruction Friday after Kyrill swept through the country

Germany woke up to death and destruction Friday after Kyrill swept through the country

The storm claimed 11 lives in Germany, halted rail services and forced the closure of Berlin's central train station after a girder collapsed, authorities said Friday.

For the first time in its history, the Deutsche Bahn national railway company suspended all services across the country as a precautionary measure after high winds blew trees on to the tracks.

Thousands of travelers were forced to spend the night in railway stations or seek emergency accommodation after train services across the country were cancelled.

Deutschland Wetter Orkan Kyrill Bahn Mann im Zug

Passengers stranded at stations slept where they could

Rail services were gradually returning to normal Friday but passengers were warned they faced further delays. "We're not taking any risks as far as passengers are concerned," said Hartmut Mehdorn, the head of the national rail company Deutsche Bahn, in justifying the unprecedented step.

Berlin's brand new central station, the biggest in Europe, was closed Thursday when high winds tore a steel girder from its high-tech facade. The two-ton girder fell 40 meters (130 feet) on to a stairway, police said. "No-one was hurt, thank God," said Volker Knauer, the Deutsche Bahn spokesman for the station.

The station was re-opened to passengers by lunchtime Friday, but train services remained heavily disrupted.

Embarassing blow to flagship station

Deutschland Wetter Orkan Kyrill Bahn Berlin Hauptbahnhof

Berlin's new station took a battering from the storm

Structural engineers were seeking to establish why the steel and glass building, which only opened eight months ago after being built for an estimated cost of one billion euros (1.29 billion dollars), had failed to withstand the first storm it has had to contend with.

Press reports said the storm, named "Kyrill" by German meteorologists, was the most powerful in the country in about 30 years, with winds gusting up to more than 200 kilometers (120 miles) per hour.

Many schools and businesses closed early on Thursday before the full force of the storm struck, bringing torrential rain and flooding to some areas, including parts of Berlin.

Eleven lives lost across Germany

Sturm Kyrill - Umgekippter Lkw

Germany's autobahns became particularly trecherous

Authorities said the death toll in the storm had risen to 11 after a motorist was killed in the northwestern state of North-Rhine Westphalia when he crashed into a tree uprooted by the wind.

Another four people have died in the state died when they were hit by falling trees, including two firemen.

An 18-month-old baby died after being crushed by a door which was ripped off its hinges by high winds in Munich, in the southern state of Bavaria, while a 73-year-old man was killed in Augsburg after a barn door fell on him.

In the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, a man died when he was trapped under a collapsed wall in a restaurant. Three drivers were crushed by trees in Baden-Württemberg, in the central town of Hildesheim and in Strausberg, near Berlin.

Museums hit; flights disrupted

Several cultural buildings were damaged in the storm, including the church in the eastern town of Wittenberg where Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door in the 16th century.

A Cologne museum housing a priceless mosaic dating back to Roman times suffered damage and the wind blew the roof off an archive holding documents about the Nazis' victims at the site of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp outside Berlin. "Luckily there was little damage to the collection," the spokesman for the museum, Horst Seferens, said.

Deutschland Wetter Orkan Kyrill Flugverkehr Flughafen Düsseldorf

The storm brought chaos to airports across the country

After canceling hundreds of flights Thursday, air traffic was also returning to normal in Germany Friday.

Germany's national carrier Lufthansa said it had been forced to cancel 331 flights around Europe, affecting almost 19,000 passengers. The country's busiest airport, Frankfurt, said it had grounded 207 of its 1,300 daily flights Thursday.

Though European insurers say it's too early to calculate the cost of damages inflicted by the storm, early indications say the bill is expected to be massive.

The German insurance association, the GDV, said insured
storm damage in the country could total around 1 billion euros
($1.3 billion).

Germany's biggest insurer Allianz said it had set up 24-hour
hotlines for its customers and that damage assessment teams were
working throughout the country.

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