Raging storm in western Germany kills five, disrupts transport

DUESSELDORF Germany Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:20am BST

A coal power plant is seen during a thunderstorm in the western city of Weisweiler June 9, 2014. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

A coal power plant is seen during a thunderstorm in the western city of Weisweiler June 9, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Ina Fassbender

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DUESSELDORF Germany (Reuters) - 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 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. Another person died in the town of Essen while trying to clear a street.

Ten incoming flights at Duesseldorf airport were diverted while 10 other flights were cancelled. The airport said gusts of up to 150 kilometres an hour (93 mph) were recorded. It opened again at 10 p.m. local time (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 the night.

(Additional reporting by Thomas Seythal in Berlin; Writing by Michelle Martin and Annika Breidthardt; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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