Tornado hits western German city; dozens injured
BERLIN (AP) — A tornado swept through the western German city of Paderborn on Friday, injuring dozens of people as it blew away roofs, toppled trees and sent debris flying for miles, authorities said.
Meteorologists had warned that heavy rainfall and hail were expected in western and central Germany on Friday, with storms producing wind gusts up to 130 kph (81 mph). Storms on Thursday had already disrupted traffic, uprooted trees that toppled onto rail tracks and roads, and flooded hundreds of basements in western Germany.
Paderborn police said 43 people were injured in the storm that hit the city. Thirty were being treated in hospitals and 10 of those were seriously injured.
One woman was in a life-threatening condition, police said.
They urged people to remain in their houses so as not to hamper rescue efforts or endanger themselves.
Heavy storm damage was also reported in the nearby town of Lippstadt. A church steeple in the town was toppled and the German news agency dpa reported that more than 100 people were temporarily trapped in a local open air pool after fallen trees blocked the exit.
The regional fire service said all available rescuers were being deployed to the area.
Authorities in Bavaria said 14 people were injured Friday when the wooden hut they were trying to shelter in collapsed during a storm at Lake Brombach, south of Nuremberg. Among the injured were several children and a 37-year-old woman, who was airlifted to a hospital with serious injuries.
Police said two French citizens died after their motorized paraglider was caught by a strong gust of wind shortly after taking off Thursday from an airfield in Ballenstedt, 175 kilometers (109 miles) southwest of Berlin. Police in Saxony-Anhalt state said the pair, both 59, were urged to land because of a forecast for an abrupt change in the weather.
Shortly after the warning, “they appear to have been hit by a gust of wind that caused the paraglider to collapse, and the air vehicle crashed onto a field from a height of about 40 meters (131 feet),” police said.
Schools in the western city of Cologne closed before midday Friday to give students time to make it home safely before the storms hit.
Further south in Ahrweiler county, all schools remained closed Friday. More than 130 people were killed in the region last summer after it was hit by a flash flood in July.
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