German rail stops trains in half of the country due to storms

The affected federal states are Lower Saxony, Bremen, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg and Berlin, although most other states are also affected, Deutsche Bahn said on Thursday.

“Some long-distance trains end and start well before the affected states,” the company said in a statement.

At 12:30 GMT high winds had claimed one victim, who died in a car after a tree collapsed on a country road near the town of Bad Bevensen in Lower Saxony, local police said, confirming information from the Bild newspaper.

The German Weather Service (DWD) said in a tweet that it recorded a wind speed of 152 kilometers per hour (94 mph) on the highest peak of the Harz mountain range in northern Germany at 0000GMT.

The storms also caused a series of power outages across the country. According to the Stoerungsauskunft website, which partners with German energy suppliers to collect data on current outages, more than 170 cities have been affected as of 12:30 GMT.

In Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), power cuts affected around 50,000 households, according to a statement on the official Borken district website.

Schools in some states, including NRW, were closed on Thursday.

(Reporting by Zuzanna Szymanska; Editing by Toby Chopra, Kirsten Donovan)

James R. Rhodes