Snow and ice hit rush-hour traffic

A winter storm with snow, rain and ice affected large parts of germany on wednesday – and now a storm is moving in as well.

Drivers skidded on wednesday, buses with schoolchildren and trucks overturned, highways were closed at times. For this thursday the german weather service warns of heavy gales and thunderstorms. At higher altitudes, deep "friederike" can also reach hurricane strength.

Severe gale-force winds of up to 90 to 115 kilometers per hour can be expected, especially in north rhine-westphalia, southern lower saxony, northern hesse and thuringia, as well as in parts of saxony-anhalt and saxony. In the higher mountains, hurricane-force winds of more than 120 km/h are possible on thursday, according to the german weather service in offenbach. The storm is expected to move over germany from the west on thursday morning. It is expected to reach the center of the country around noon, according to initial forecasts. But times can only be roughly predicted.

Wednesday’s winter weather hit commuter traffic in particular. Several buses carrying schoolchildren crashed in slippery conditions in north rhine-westphalia. One bus driver was seriously injured, other people suffered minor injuries, according to the police. In numbrecht in the bergisches land, a bus left the road on a slippery stretch of snow. The driver and seven other people, including schoolchildren, were slightly injured.

Seven people were slightly injured in an accident with a school bus near euskirchen – here, too, schoolchildren are said to be among the injured. A school bus crashed into a tree near zulpich. The bus driver was seriously injured and one passenger suffered minor injuries, police reported.

On a smooth, slippery road in bad berleburg near siegen, a truck collided with an oncoming school bus. The bus went off the road and came to rest on a roadside embankment. Helpers broke a side window so that the children and the rider could get out. Four children aged between 12 and 14 and the 72-year-old bus driver were taken to hospital in shock

In laubach, hesse, an accident with a regular service bus occurred on a country road. Six children and the bus driver (45) were slightly injured. The bus was carrying a total of 24 elementary school students.

In thuringia, a truck loaded with cucumbers crashed into a field 30 meters away from the road on the A9 near schleiz this morning due to slippery snow – the driver was uninjured.

Three people were slightly injured in a pileup involving 15 vehicles on highway 93 in bavaria. The cars, including two trucks, had collided in the snowstorm near bad abbach, a police spokesman said. The freeway was closed in the direction of regensburg during the recovery work.

A food truck overturned on the A623 in the saarland near the friedrichsthal interchange. Because the 18-ton truck was blocking the lane, the highway was closed in both directions. The driver was slightly injured in the accident.

Numerous accidents during the night on slippery roads in lower saxony. In salzbergen in emsland, the trailer of a transporter carrying 100 pigs overturned this morning. At least 18 animals died.

With an eye to thursday, the german railroads warned its passengers on the internet of possible restrictions in large parts of germany due to possible hurricane-like storms: "for safety reasons, we reserve the right to reduce the maximum speed of our trains and, in individual cases, to suspend rail operations."

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