A giant aquarium in Berlin exploded early Friday, spilling 1 million liters (264,172 gallons) of water, about 1,500 exotic fish and debris onto a major road in the busy Mitte district, emergency services said.
Around 100 emergency responders arrived at the site, a leisure complex containing a Radisson hotel and a museum as well as what Sea Life Berlin said was the world’s largest freestanding cylindrical aquarium at 14 meters (46 ft) in height.
“It felt like an earthquake,” said Naz Masraf, who was staying at the hotel.
Another hotel guest, Sandra Weiser, spoke of the chaos.
“The whole aquarium was torn apart and what is left is total devastation. Lots of dead fish, debris,” she told Reuters.
1,500 fish from the aquarium died, said a spokeswoman for Union Investments, which manages the real estate fund that owns the property.
He said efforts are underway to rescue fish from several smaller tanks that were near the Aquadome and that had escaped destruction but were subject to power cuts to the building.
A fire brigade spokesman told Reuters it was still unclear what caused the Aquadome aquarium to explode.
Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffi was quoted as saying that it was fortunate that the accident occurred so early in the morning, when there was hardly anyone in the vicinity.
“Had this not happened at 5.45am, but even just an hour later, we would have had terrible human losses to report,” broadcaster RBB quoted Jiffy as saying.
Two people, including a hotel employee, were injured by shards of glass, and emergency services told about 350 hotel guests to pack their belongings and leave amid concerns that there could be structural damage.
Police said buses were dispatched to provide shelter for hotel guests, as the temperature outside in Berlin was around −7 °C (19.4 °F) in the morning.
Radisson told its Radisson Rewards loyalty club members in an e-mail that the Radisson Collection Hotel Berlin has been closed until further notice.
Sea Life Berlin said in a statement that its team is shocked by the incident and is trying to obtain more information from the owners of the Aquadome about the cause of the incident.
The company, which offered glass elevator rides through the Aquadome aquarium, said it would also be closed until further notice.
Emergency services closed a major road next to the complex, which leads from Alexanderplatz to the Brandenburg Gate, due to the large amount of water gushing from the building.
According to the DomAquaree complex’s website, the aquarium was last refurbished in 2020. During the upgrade work, all the water was drained from the tank and the fishes were moved to the aquarium in the basement of the building, which has a breeding care facility for the fishes, it said.
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