(Reuters) — At least six people were killed in storms that swept Germany’s most populous state late on Monday, forcing Duesseldorf airport to shut down, with falling trees leaving some roads impassable.
After a scorching 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 Duesseldorf 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. A 28-year-old cyclist in Krefeld was killed when a falling tree brought down an overhead electricity cable which electrocuted him. One other person died in the town of Essen while trying to clear a street.
Commuters were stuck in long traffic jams on Tuesday.
Ten incoming flights at Duesseldorf airport were diverted while 10 other flights were cancelled. The airport said winds gusting up to 150 km per hour (93 mph) were recorded. It opened again at 10 p.m. (2000 GMT).
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 Duesseldorf, 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 later on Tuesday.