Berlin Hotel’s Huge Aquarium Bursts, With 1,500 Fish Inside

A 50-foot-high aquarium burst in a hotel in downtown Berlin on Friday morning, sending hundreds of thousands of gallons of seawater and 1,500 tropical fish through the lobby and onto the street.

The force of the blast and water coursing out of the building pushed mangled debris — from twisted lamps to bellhop trolleys — onto the street in front of the hotel.

About 100 firefighters responded at the scene, cordoning off an intersection close to the hotel, a Radisson, near the central square of Alexanderplatz. The authorities were checking for structural damage to the building as guests were evacuated, and two people were taken to the hospital to treat cuts caused by shards of glass from the burst tank.

Some guests led out of the hotel described a street strewn with dying fish, some of which appeared to have frozen to death by the frigid morning temperatures of 19 degrees Fahrenheit.

The cylindrical tank, called the AquaDom, was built in the hotel in 2003 and holds 264,000 gallons of water. The makers of the AquaDom described it as the largest cylindrical free-standing aquarium in the world.

Municipal officials said that although the fish inside the main cylindrical tank were unlikely to survive, they were working to save fish that were housed in smaller aquariums inside the building. Those fish were also at risk, because the blast shut down the building’s power.

“The fish that have survived are being moved as safely as possible,” said Markus Kamrad, an official at the Berlin Senate. “Our Plan A is to reactivate the electricity. Plan B would be to bring them to a safe location, and we have some offers from places that say they are ready to take them.”


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