1,500 Fish Explode at Giant Aquarium in Berlin, Two Injured

BERLIN—A giant, cylindrical aquarium that has become a landmark in the years since the fall of the Berlin Wall exploded Friday, throwing a million liters of water and 1,500 exotic fish into a busy passage across the city’s recently rebuilt royal palace.

Witnesses said they heard a loud explosion at around 05:45 local time when police said the glass tank had exploded. The wave wreaked havoc as it crashed through doors and windows, flooding the street outside.

Police said two people were injured by shards of glass, and first responders said they were examining 35 people. Rescue dogs searched the wreckage to find more victims.

Police officers armed with automatic weapons and about 100 rescuers descended on the scene in the early hours of the morning.

After the aquarium exploded, debris was scattered on the road.


Christoph Soeder/Zuma Press

Police said they were confident the incident was not the result of an intentional act and that they were not investigating the incident. However, they said it was too early to tell why and how the transparent casing of the 16-meter-high cylindrical tank broke.

The tank stood in the glass-roofed courtyard of the Radisson hotel, overlooking the cafe and reception counters, illuminating the lobby with a pale blue light.

Visitors to the adjacent AquaDom & Sea Life Center can visit the aquarium by taking an elevator that rises from its middle. AquaDom’s website says the tank is the largest of its kind in the world.

MP Sandra Weeser, who was staying at the hotel, told German television crews that she was asleep in her room when she heard a loud explosion.

According to AquaDom’s website, the tank was the largest of its kind in the world.


IOS/Press Zoom

“I thought it was an earthquake,” he said. “Then I slept again.”

When he awoke and learned what was happening just meters away, he packed his things and left the hotel, past the rubble.

Everything inside was burned, there are dead fish everywhere,” he said.

Other posts shared on social media showed the inside of the hotel lobby with a hollow concrete body; here the aquarium rose above a pile of overturned furniture and broken glass.

Speaking later at the scene, Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey described the wave from the exploding tank as “a tsunami that engulfed the hotel and neighboring restaurants”.

While the damage was substantial and could have caused some structures to collapse, lives could have been lost had the incident occurred just hours later when the hotel lobby and adjacent streets were packed with visitors and commuters, he said.

The complex where the aquarium is located also houses an East German history museum. It is located in the old historic center of Berlin, opposite the cathedral, the reconstructed Hohenzollern palace and the Museum Island – all popular tourist attractions.

Both the German Democratic Republic museum and AquaDom, located just below the aquarium, said they would remain closed indefinitely after the incident.

Union Investment, owner of the building where the aquarium is located, said its representatives are working with emergency services to estimate the extent of the damage. He said most of the fish in the tank died, but rescuers were trying to relocate specimens from other tanks at the time of the incident.

Police said about 350 people were staying at the hotel at the time of the incident. Hotel guests were evacuated and they took shelter in buses that were brought to the scene.

Due to the freezing temperatures, the water spilled outside the hotel froze instantly, and Berlin’s waste management agency sent two special trucks to remove the ice.

The AquaDom tank is made of plexiglass and measures 11.5 meters in diameter, according to the operator’s website. According to the operator, the tank contained 1,000 cubic meters of brine and was replenished in 2020. There were more than 100 different fish species in the aquarium.

Write to William Boston at william.boston@wsj.com

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *