By Matthias Inverardi
At least five people were killed in violent storms that swept Germany’s most populous state late on Monday, felling trees, disrupting public transport and leaving some roads impassable.
After a scorchingly hot three-day holiday weekend, thunderstorms, strong winds and heavy rain pounded the western state of North-Rhine Westphalia, causing Germany’s third-largest airport in Dusseldorf to close for about an hour.
Three people were reported to have died in the state capital when a tree fell onto a garden shed in which they were seeking shelter. Fire fighters rescued three more injured people – two severely hurt – from the shed, according to media.
A cyclist aged around 50 died in nearby Cologne after being hit by a falling tree that local police said was probably struck by lightning. Another person died in the town of Essen while trying to clear a street.
Ten incoming flights at Dusseldorf airport were diverted while 10 other flights were cancelled. The airport said gusts of up to 150 kilometres an hour were recorded. It opened again at 10pm local time.
Early on Tuesday, national rail operator Deutsche Bahn said numerous train services were still suspended and trains in operation would face severe delays.
Fallen trees blocked some streets in Dusseldorf, where trams and underground trains were also stopped due to damaged overhead lines. Some locals reported electrical outages.
The storm front moved further northeast and the German Meteorological Service issued weather warnings for regions including Hanover and Bremen for the night.