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A tornado hits a town in western Germany;  at least 30 injured


German police say at least 30 people were injured, 10 of them seriously, after a tornado hit the western town of Paderborn

BERLIN — A tornado swept through the western German city of Paderborn on Friday, injuring at least 30 people as it blew through rooftops, toppled trees and tossed debris for miles, authorities said.

Meteorologists had warned that heavy rain and hail were expected in western and central Germany on Friday, with storms producing wind gusts of up to 130 km/h (81 mph). Thursday’s storms had already disrupted traffic, uprooted trees that toppled onto railway tracks and roads, and flooded hundreds of basements in western Germany.

“30 to 40 injured, including at least 10 seriously,” Paderborn police announced on Friday after the tornado. They urged people to stay home so as not to hamper rescue efforts or put themselves in danger.

Heavy storm damage was also reported in the nearby town of Lippstadt. A church steeple in the town was toppled and German news agency dpa reported that more than 100 people were temporarily trapped in a local outdoor swimming pool after fallen trees blocked the exit.

The regional fire department said all available lifeguards were deployed to the area.

Bavarian authorities said 14 people were injured on Friday when the wooden hut they were trying to shelter in collapsed during a storm on Lake Brombach, south of Nuremberg. Among the injured were several children and a 37-year-old woman, who was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries.

Police said two French citizens died after their powered paraglider was caught in a strong gust of wind shortly after taking off on Thursday from an airfield in Ballenstedt, 175 kilometers (109 miles) southwest of Berlin. Saxony-Anhalt state police said the couple, both 59, were asked to land due to a forecast of a sudden change in the weather.

Shortly after the warning, “they appear to have been hit by a gust of wind which caused the paraglider to collapse, and the aerial vehicle crashed into a field from a height of about 40 meters (131 feet),” police said.

Schools in the western city of Cologne closed before noon on Friday to give pupils time to return home safely before storms hit.

Further south in Ahrweiler County, all schools remained closed on Friday. More than 130 people were killed in the area last summer after it was hit by a flash flood in July.

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