Five dead in freak German motorway sandstorm
At least five people died Friday in a huge blaze on a motorway in eastern Germany after a freak sandstorm caused pile-ups, police said.
Strong winds blew sand and earth onto the four-lane A19 autobahn near Rostock in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania state, severely hindering visibility for motorists and causing accidents in both directions.
Northbound, three lorries and 17 cars slammed into each other and were engulfed in flames, possibly caused by chemicals on one of the trucks catching fire, police said.
Once the blaze was extinguished, rescue workers pulled five bodies from the smoking, mangled wreckage, and there were fears that more would be found.
On the other side of the road at least 30 cars crashed, but there were no fatalities. Strong winds impeded rescue workers and the road was closed in both directions until further notice.
More than 80 people were injured, some of them seriously.
The Bild daily on its website put the death toll at at least 10.
© 2011 AFP