AquaDom aquarium, world’s largest, bursts in Berlin

The 82-foot tall “AquaDom” was the largest cylindrical aquarium in the world and housed over a thousand tropical fish before the incident.

BERLIN, Germany — A giant aquarium in Berlin burst on Friday, spilling glass, water and hundreds of species of tropical fish from the AquaDom tourist attraction in the heart of the German capital.

Police said parts of the building, including a hotel, cafe and chocolate shop, were damaged by 1 million liters (264,000 gallons) of water spilled from the aquarium just before 6am. local. Berlin’s fire service said two people suffered minor injuries.

The company that owns AquaDom, Union Investment Real Estate, said in a statement Friday afternoon that the cause of the incident “remains unclear”.

Mayor Franziska Giffey said the incident caused a “real tsunami” but the early morning timing prevented more injuries.

“Despite all the devastation, we are still very lucky,” she said. “We would have had terrible loss of life” if the aquarium broke even an hour later, when more people in the hotel and the surrounding area woke up, she said.

The 25-meter (82-foot) tall AquaDom was described as the world’s largest cylindrical tank and housed over a thousand tropical fish before the incident. Among the 80 types of fish it keeps are blue tang and clown fish, two colorful species known in the popular cartoon “Finding Nemo”.

“Unfortunately, none of the 1,500 fish were saved,” said Giffey.

Efforts were underway Friday afternoon to save an additional 400 to 500 smaller fish kept in an aquarium below the hotel lobby. Without electricity, their tanks don’t get the oxygen they need to survive, officials say.

Almut Neumann, a city official in charge of environmental affairs in Berlin’s Mitte district, told the German news agency dpa: “Now it’s a matter of evacuating them quickly.

Various organizations, including the Berlin Zoo, have offered to accept the surviving fish.

Aquarium operator Sea Life said it was saddened by the incident and was trying to get more information about the incident from the owner of the AquaDom.

Sea Life’s private aquarium is located in the same building, and guests can visit the aquarium and AquaDom with just one ticket.

It is speculated that freezing temperatures dropping to minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) overnight caused a crack in the acrylic glass tank, which then exploded under the weight of the water. Police said there was no evidence that the incident was caused by an assault.

About 300 guests and staff were evacuated from hotels around the aquarium, police said.

Sandra Weeser, a German lawmaker who was staying in the hotel, said she was woken up by a loud bang and thought there might have been an earthquake.

“There were broken pieces (glass) everywhere. The furniture, everything was in the water,” she said. “It looks like a war zone.”

Police said a Lindt chocolate shop and several restaurants in the same building complex, as well as an underground garage next to the hotel, were damaged following the incident. A fire department spokesman said building safety experts were assessing the extent of structural damage to the hotel.

Hours after the incident, trucks began clearing debris from the street in front of the hotel. Brightly colored Lindt chocolate wrappers were scattered in front of the building where the chocolate shop was damaged. A small crowd of tourists and onlookers took pictures from behind the police line across the street.

The aquarium, last modernized in 2020, is a major tourist attraction in Berlin. The 10-minute lift ride over the tropical pool is one of the highlights of the attraction.

Animal rights group PETA tweeted Thursday that the aquarium had become a “death trap” for the fish it kept. “This man-made tragedy shows that the aquarium is not a safe place for fish and other marine life,” they wrote.

Iva Yudinski, a tourist from Israel who used to stay at the hotel, said she was shocked by the incident.

“Just yesterday we saw it and we were amazed (by) its beauty,” she said. “Suddenly it all disappeared. Everything is a mess, a mess.” AquaDom aquarium, world’s largest, bursts in Berlin

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