Storm damages Berlin's 'glass palace'

22nd January 2007, Comments 0 comments

22 January 2007, Berlin (dpa) - One of the most prominent casualties of the storm that swept across Germany is Berlin's new main railway station, dubbed "the glass palace" by locals. The church where Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door, a concentration camp archives and a museum housing a priceless collection of mosaic art also sustained damage Thursday evening. The station remained closed until early afternoon Friday after a powerful gust ripped a two-ton steel support from the roof sending it

22 January 2007

Berlin (dpa) - One of the most prominent casualties of the storm that swept across Germany is Berlin's new main railway station, dubbed "the glass palace" by locals.

The church where Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door, a concentration camp archives and a museum housing a priceless collection of mosaic art also sustained damage Thursday evening.

The station remained closed until early afternoon Friday after a powerful gust ripped a two-ton steel support from the roof sending it crashing onto the deserted steps of the south-west entrance, 40 metres below.

Berlin's main railway station was closed for the second time in three days on Sunday after meteorologists issued a new storm alert for the nation's capital.

"It was a miracle no one was injured," said a taxi driver whose vehicle, parked just a few metres away, suffered a smashed windscreen caused by flying debris.

Police immediately evacuated the five-storey building, which was filled with stranded travellers because the national railway company Deutsche Bahn had cancelled all services because of the storm.

Opened with great fanfare just eight months ago, the station was sealed off Friday as engineers examined the glass-and-concrete edifice to check for further structural damage.

"I can't understand how such a vital element of the facade could be torn away like that, said fireman Jens-Peter Wilke, one of the first members of the emergency services to reach the scene.

Rail officials were forced to divert hundreds of long-distance and commuter trains around the station, the billion-euro station, the biggest of its kind in Europe.

South of Berlin, officials in the town of Wittenberg were examining damage to the Palace Church where Martin Luther nailed his theses on Protestantism to the door in 1521.

Large chunks of masonry were torn off the facade of the church, which is listed as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site.

In Cologne, the city's Romano-Germanic museum suffered major damage after the wind sent planks of wood crashing through a window onto a mosaic exhibit dating back to Roman times.

Museum director Hansgerd Hellenkemper said he was shocked at the damage to the world famous treasure, depicting scenes from the world of Dionysos.

In the former concentration camp of Sachsenhausen near Berlin, the wind tore the roof off the museum, which houses an archive and possessions of some of 200,000 inmates once interned in the camp.

"Luckily the damage was minimal," said Horst Seferens,a spokesman for the former camp, which is now a memorial centre.

But it was the damage to the Berlin central station that attracted most media attention.

A prestige project of Deutsche Bahn chief Hartmut Mehdorn, the station eclipses all others in Berlin, with its cathedral-like roof of glass and solar panels, 400-metre-long glass concourse, 59 escalators and 37 lifts.

Late last year, a Berlin court ordered the rail operator to remodel the terminal because the company did not follow architect Meinhard von Gerkan's design.

Gerkan sued because a basement tunnel was given a flat, sheet- metal ceiling instead of the arching ceiling he planned, resembling the curved glass roof over the station's elevated-track level.

The architect was also upset when Deutsche Bahn shortened the length of the glass roof over the station's elevated platforms, which overlook Chancellor Angela Merkel's office and are within sight of the glass cupola of the Reichstag parliament building.

DPA

Subject: German news

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