Daily Maverick

Storm damage to cost Germany 500 mln euros as death toll rises

German insurers estimated Friday that ferocious gales that battered Germany caused 500 million euros ($614 million) in damages, as the number of dead across the country rose to eight. 

Trains on Germany’s intercity lines gradually resumed operation a day after they were suspended due to the hurricane-force winds which caused transport chaos across northern Europe.

Two more people were reported killed in the worst storm to strike Germany in a decade, adding to an earlier toll of six which included two firefighters responding to emergency calls.

A 64-year-old man fell eight metres (26 feet) while he was working to secure the roof of a house. He later died in hospital, police from the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt said.

Another man, 34, also succumbed to his injuries after he was crushed by a falling tree, police said.

The huge storm caused another three deaths elsewhere in northern Europe and left air and rail traffic in chaos.

In southern Germany, high-speed ICE trains were running as normal on Friday morning, although the service in the rest of the country remained subject to major disruptions, rail operator Deutsche Bahn said. 

The company had on Thursday suspended all high-speed services due to storm Friederike — the first such stoppage since 2007, when major gales battered the country.

– Baby in storm -By the end of the morning, trains should be running to all the main cities, Deutsche Bahn said, with the service expected to be back to normal by the weekend. 

Regional train services were also disrupted on Friday, particularly in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state.

Hundreds of rail staff worked through the night to clear the tracks of fallen branches and trees.

Many trees were uprooted by the force of the storm which saw winds of up to 130 kilometres per hour (80 miles per hour) while others worked to repair damage to the lines, it said.

The German Insurance Association said 500 million euros of damage was caused by the country’s worst storm in more than a decade, although it was only a quarter of that inflicted by another deadly tempest in 2007, which cost some two billion euros. 

Separately, Dutch insurers reported 90 million euros in damages across The Netherlands, where train services were on Friday also slowly creaking back into gear.

“According to our first estimates, the damage to homes and cars is at least 90 million euros,” the Dutch Association of Insurers said.

But it said it had yet to add in the cost to businesses, government buildings and the agriculture sector.

The Netherlands bore the initial brunt of Thursday’s severe storms which slammed in with winds of up to 140 kilometres (86 miles) an hour off the North Sea before barrelling across northern Europe.

On a lighter note, a baby boy was born in his parents’ car in the western city of Cologne as they were caught up in the traffic chaos unleashed by storm, city authorities said. 

The couple called him Anton.  DM

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