AquaDom, the largest aquarium in the world, is bursting in Berlin

The 82-foot “AquaDom” was the world’s largest cylindrical aquarium and was home to more than a thousand tropical fish before the incident.

BERLIN, Germany — A huge aquarium in Berlin On Friday, a glass, water and hundreds of tropical fish burst from the AquaDom tourist attraction in the heart of the German capital.

Police said parts of the building, which also houses a hotel, cafes and a chocolate shop, were damaged when 1 million liters (264,000 gallons) of water poured from the aquarium just before 6 a.m. local time. The Berlin fire brigade said two people were slightly injured.

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

“Despite all the destruction, we were still very lucky,” she said. “We would have had terrible human damage” if the aquarium had burst even an hour later, once more people were awake and in and around the hotel, she said.

The 25-metre-tall AquaDom has been described as the world’s largest cylindrical tank and was home to more than a thousand tropical fish before the incident. Among the 80 species of fish it housed were blue kelp and clown fish, two colorful species featured in the popular animated film Finding Nemo.

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

Efforts were made on Friday afternoon to rescue an additional 400 to 500 smaller fish housed in aquariums under the hotel lobby. Without power, their tanks weren’t getting the oxygen they needed to survive, officials said.

“Now it’s a matter of evacuating them quickly,” said Almut Neumann, environmental officer for the Berlin-Mitte district, of the German news agency dpa.

Various organizations, including the Berlin Zoo, offered to take in 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 AquaDom’s owners.

Sea Life’s own aquarium is located in the same building and visitors can visit it and the AquaDom with a single ticket.

It was speculated that overnight temperatures of minus 10 degrees Celsius caused the acrylic glass tank to rupture, which then exploded under the weight of the water. Police said there was no evidence the incident resulted from an assault.

About 300 guests and staff had to be evacuated from the hotel surrounding the aquarium, police said.

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

“There are (glass) shards everywhere. The furniture, everything was flooded with water,” she said. “It looks a bit like a war zone.”

Police said a Lindt chocolate shop and several restaurants in the same building complex, as well as an underground car park next to the hotel, were damaged in the incident. A fire department spokesman said building security experts would examine the extent to which the hotel had suffered structural damage.

Hours after the incident, trucks began clearing debris that had spilled onto the street in front of the hotel. Colorful Lindt chocolate wrappers were scattered in front of the building where the chocolate shop was damaged. A small group of tourists and onlookers took photos from behind the police line across the street.

The aquarium, which was last modernized in 2020, is a major tourist magnet in Berlin. The 10 minute elevator ride through the tropical pool was one of the highlights of the attraction.

Iva Yudinski, a tourist from Israel who stayed at the hotel, said she was shocked by the incident

“We just checked it out yesterday and we were so amazed by its beauty,” she said. “Suddenly everything is gone. Everything is a mess, a total mess.” AquaDom, the largest aquarium in the world, is bursting in Berlin

Laura Coffey

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