Tornado strikes German town, causing heavy damage

A tornado hit the western German town of Lippstadt, causing heavy damage, officials said, as large parts of the country remained on storm alert Friday.

The regional fire service said all available rescuers were being deployed to Lippstadt. Videos posted on social media showed large amounts of debris flying through the air, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

“The entire town area … suffered heavy damage,” the fire service said.

Meteorologists had warned that heavy rainfall and hail were expected in parts of the west and center of the country Friday, with storms producing wind speeds of up to 81 mph.

The warnings came after storms disrupted traffic, uprooted trees that toppled onto rail tracks and roads, and flooded hundreds of basements in western Germany on Thursday.

Police said two French nationals died after their motorized paraglider was caught by a strong gust of wind shortly after taking off Thursday from an airfield in Ballenstedt, about 100 miles southwest of Berlin. Police in Saxony-Anhalt state said the pair, both 59, were urged to land because of a forecast for an abrupt change in the weather.

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Shortly after the warning, “they appear to have been hit by a gust of wind that caused the paraglider to collapse, and the air vehicle crashed onto a field from a height of about 131 feet,” police said.

Schools in the western city of Cologne closed before midday to give students time to make it home safely before the storms hit.

Farther south in Ahrweiler county, all schools remained closed Friday. More than 130 people were killed in the region after it was hit by a flash flood in July 2021.

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