Massive storm sweeps through Central Europe, leaving at least 6 dead


A powerful storm swept through several Central European countries on Sunday, October 29, 2017, killing at least 6 people and injuring several others. The storm dumped flooding rain and produced hurricane-force winds that knocked down trees and power lines, leaving hundreds of thousands of homes without electricity and widespread travel chaos.

Named Storm Herwart by the German Meteorological Service (DWD), it swept through Czechia, Slovakia, Poland and northern Germany with winds up to 180 km/h (112 mph). Powerful winds also affected Austria and other neighboring countries.

German Rail halted its long-distance trains across much of northern Germany due to 'significant damage' and numerous roads were closed as crews removed fallen trees, Deutsche Welle reports. The service is expected to remain suspended until Monday. Thousands of travelers were left stranded in cities such as Bremen, Hamburg, Berlin, Hanover, Kiel and Dortmund. 

The Berlin fire brigade declared a state of emergency early Sunday as the storm roared over the German capital. Between 04:00 and 07:00 CET, they received 100 emergency phone calls.

In Hamburg, the Elbe River breached its banks, causing widespread flooding in the inner city area. The city's famous fish market was closed as a result of the storm. Firefighters in the city received 500 calls to deal with emergency situations.

In Czechia, two people were killed when they were hit by falling trees; a woman near the central city of Trebic and an elderly man in Jicin northeast of Prague.

The strong winds halted traffic on dozens of railways and several roads across the country and some rivers in the country's north of the country reached the highest flood-alert levels.

At the peak of the storm, hundreds of thousands of homes were without power, state-run power producer CEZ said.

Central Europe - Suomi NPP - October 29, 2017

Credit: Suomi NPP / VIIRS. Acquired: October 29, 2017

Two people also died in Poland as a result of heavy winds, including a man who died in his car after crashing into a branch that had fallen on the road near the northwestern city of Szczecin, firefighters said. The second man was killed when a tree fell on his car in the country's southwest, while his passenger was hospitalized.

About 200 000 people in western Poland were left without power.

The winds damaged a pipeline at the country's liquefied natural gas terminal in the port of Swinoujscie. The incident caused a small leak but 'no greater damage.'

Strong winds also caused damage in Slovakia, causing officials to warn families against visiting graves in the lead-up to All Saints' Day out of safety concerns. Cemeteries in Bratislava were closed.

A 63-year-old camper drowned in the Jadebusen river in Lower Saxony in Germany, when he was swept away in a flash flood. The second victim in Germany was a woman whose motorboat overturned in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

In Berlin, one man was severely injured by roof tiles falling from a building, another one was injured when hit by scaffolding torn off a home and four more were injured in storm-related incidents across the country.

Strong winds are expected to continue affecting the region over the next couple of days as the system rolls out further east.

Featured image credit: MC LIMITED EDITION 1971 V8

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