Aquarium Aqua-Dome burst – just missed the catastrophe

At 5:45 a.m. the emergency call reached the Berlin fire brigade. The 16 meter high privately operated seawater aquarium – a tourist attraction in the middle of a hotel – burst in one fell swoop. A million liters of water poured into the hotel atrium, the facades facing the street burst, furniture, high tables, flower pots, small Christmas trees were washed out onto the street.

“Like after a tsunami”

As after a tsunami or as after a terrorist attack – this is how hotel guests and employees, police officers and firefighters describe the atrium of the hotel, in which the 16 meter high aquarium was located. State Secretary for the Environment Markus Kamrad was there in the morning. Few fish would have survived. The breeding aquariums in the basement were not damaged, there are some rare fish species here that could be saved, the Secretary of State sums up.

The owner of the building complex, Union Investment, was dismayed. One must speak of happiness in misfortune. If the aquarium had burst during the day, there would have been many injuries and possibly deaths. “We transported two slightly injured people to hospitals,” says fire department spokesman Adrian Wentzel. The fire department evacuated the hotel. Heated buses were ready for the approximately 400 guests.

Material fatigue possible cause

The hotel will remain closed until further notice, as will the shops, cafés and restaurants in the building. Structural engineers are now checking the building: is it stable enough without the supporting aquarium or is it in danger of collapsing? Material fatigue could be the cause of the serious accident – the aquarium was opened 18 years ago.

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