PRAGUE/BERLIN – At least five people died and several were injured Sunday as high winds knocked down trees, left homes without electricity and caused widespread travel chaos across much of Central Europe.
Two people died in Poland as a result of the strong winds, including a man who drove his car into a tree that had been knocked down by the storm, Fire Department spokesman Pawel Fratczak said. The second man was killed when a tree fell on his car in southwestern Poland, while his passenger was hospitalized, Polish media reported.
Two people were killed in the Czech Republic when they were hit by falling trees, local television reported.
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 German news agency dpa reported. 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.
Storm Herwart, whose wind gusts reached 180 kph (112 mph), caused blackouts in hundreds of thousands of homes in the Czech Republic, Austria and other countries.
Train connections in several northern German states were shut down, including links to and from Berlin, because of the danger from branches on the tracks. German rail company Deutsche Bahn opened stationary trains to travelers left stranded by cancellations.
A Lufthansa flight from Houston to Frankfurt made an emergency landing in the southwestern German city of Stuttgart early Sunday because of strong winds.
In the northern city of Hamburg, the Elbe River flooded a parking garage, the city’s famous fish market and several streets. Firefighters had to rescue seven cows from the Elbe in the Neugamme neighborhood of Hamburg.
Zoos in Prague, Berlin and in the eastern German city of Rostock remained closed because of the danger of falling trees.