A ‘tsunami’: Berlin aquarium containing 1,500 exotic fish and millions of litres of water explodes

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A huge aquarium at a hotel in Berlin that was home to around 1,500 exotic fish burst early on Friday morning, injuring two people.

Around 100 emergency responders rushed to the scene at an inner-city leisure complex, emergency services said.

Dramatic pictures show the aftermath of the incident, with wreckage strewn across the ground.

The AquaDom in Berlin was home to hunreds of fish


Debris left behind after the structure gave way


Known as the ‘AquaDom’, it was the world’s largest freestanding cylindrical aquarium at 46 ft in height, according to the website of the DomAquaree complex, which houses a Radisson hotel, a museum, shops and restaurants.

Police said parts of the building, which also contains a hotel, cafes and a chocolate store, were damaged as 1 million litres of water poured from the aquarium shortly before 6am. ( 5am GMT).

Berlin’s fire service said two people were slightly injured.

Mayor Franziska Giffey said the incident had unleashed a “veritable tsunami” of water but the early morning timing had prevented far more injuries.

“Despite all the destruction, we were still very lucky,” she said. “We would have had terrible human damage” had the aquarium burst even an hour later.

She added: “ “Unfortunately, none of the 1,500 fish could be saved.”

Emergency services shut a major road next to the complex that leads from Alexanderplatz toward the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin due to the large volume of water that had flooded out of the building.

The road and pavement outside the complex were littered with debris.

“In addition to the unbelievable maritime damage… two people were injured by glass splinters,” Berlin police said on Twitter.

Buses were sent to the complex to provide shelter for hotel guests leaving the building, police said on Twitter, as outside temperatures in Berlin stood around -7C at the time.

Damage to the base of the giant fishtank, which contained millions of litres of water


The building was closed due to the flooding caused


Photos shared on social media show huge amounts of damage in the foyer of the hotel. Debris is scattered all over the street in front of the building.

The building was closed up after the incident due to flooding.

The aquarium was described as the biggest cylindrical tank in the world. Among the 80 types of fish it housed were blue tang and clownfish, two colorful species known from the popular animated movie “Finding Nemo”.

Work was done on the aquarium to modernise it two years ago. Inside it, there was a clear lift that visitors could use to look at the fish, while some of the hotel rooms boasted views of the tank.

It’s currently not clear what caused the aquarium to break and police told local media that there is no evidence of a targeted attack.

Debris spilled out onto the street outside the hotel

(AFP via Getty Images)

Authorities warned people driving in the area around the building to be cautious due to the huge amounts of water flowing into the street.

The aquarium had been home to more than 100 species of exotic fish.

Efforts were underway to save an additional 400 to 500 smaller fish housed in aquariums underneath the hotel lobby. Without electricity, their tanks were not receiving the necessary oxygen for them to survive, officials said.

Various organisations, including the Berlin Zoo, offered to take in the surviving fish.

There was no immediate cause given for the incident but there was speculation freezing temperatures that got down to minus 10C overnight caused a crack in the acrylic glass tank, which then exploded under the weight of the water.

Police said there was no evidence the incident resulted from an attack. About 300 guests and employees had to be evacuated from the hotel surrounding the aquarium, police said.

Sandra Weeser, a German lawmaker who was staying in the hotel, said she was awoken up by a large bang and thought there might have been an earthquake. “There are shards (of glass) everywhere. The furniture, everything has been flooded with water,” she said. “It looks a bit like a war zone.”

Reports suggest that, at the time of its construction, AquaDom cost around £11.2m.

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