A giant aquarium in a Berlin hotel, the AquaDom, burst unexpectedly early Friday – causing significant debris, nearly 264,000 gallons of water and more than a thousand tropical fish to pour through the lobby and into the street, police and other authorities said.
The 82-foot-tall AquaDom, a tourist attraction that was previously described as the biggest cylindrical tank in the world, was home to about 1,500 tropical fish before the incident.
Authorities confirmed to the Associated Press that the burst began shortly before 6 a.m. in Germany (12 a.m. ET). Parts of the building holding the AquaDom – which also contains a hotel and cafes – were damaged and two people were injured by broken glass, police said on Twitter.
The AquaDom sits inside the lobby of the Berlin Radisson Blu hotel in the Dom Aquarée complex, according to CBS.
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In a statement emailed to USA TODAY Friday, Union Investment Real Estate, the company that owns the AquaDom, confirmed that the AguaDom was “completely destroyed.” The cause or reasons behind the burst “are not yet clear,” the company added.
No evidence of a malicious act was found, police said.
A hotel employee and a guest were the two people that were injured, Union Investment Real Estate said. The company added that the hotel has been fully evacuated.
“We are dismayed by the accident and wish the injured persons all the best and a speedy recovery,” Union Investment Real Estate stated, adding that “a large part of the fish kept in the AquaDom” have died. “There are still smaller aquariums that were not destroyed. Rescue workers are currently working with the operator to try to save the fish from these aquariums.”
Almost all of the 1,500 fish inside the AquaDom at the time of the burst died, the Berlin Mitte district government confirmed on Twitter, noting that a few fish at the bottom of the tank could be saved.
Both Union Investment Real Estate and Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey thanked the first responders who were at the scene.
According to the Associated Press, Giffey said the burst unleashed a “veritable tsunami.”
In an interview with reporters, Giffey noted that the timing of the incident could have been much worse – even if the burst occurred just an hour later. Injuries were prevented because less people were on the streets so early in the morning, she said.
In tweets announcing the AquaDom burst, the Berlin Fire Brigade and Berlin Police said that 100 emergency responders went to the scene at the DomAquarée complex. Other emergency efforts included providing heated buses for guests leaving the hotel and deploying rescue dogs. The rescue dogs found no one left in the building, the fire brigade said.
Photos of the building’s exterior show significant debris.
“There are shards (of glass) everywhere. The furniture, everything has been flooded with water,” Sandra Weeser, a German lawmaker who was staying in the hotel, told the Associated Press. “It looks a bit like a war zone.”
The AquaDom sits in the same building as Sea Life Berlin, and visitors can tour both with the same ticket – but Sea Life does not own or participate in the maintenance of the AquaDom, the company notes. Still, after Friday’s incident, Sea Life said its Berlin aquarium would be closed “until further notice.”
“Our teams at (Sea Life) have offered support to the teams at AquaDom, as our priority is the safety and wellbeing of all the people and animals involved,” Marcel Kloos, regional manager at Merlin Entertainments, which owns Sea Life Berlin, said in a Friday statement.
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About 400 smaller fish that survived in other aquariums housed under the hotel lobby were evacuated as of Friday afternoon, the Berlin Mitte district government said on Twitter. The fish were rehoused in the neighboring SeaLife building.
Contributing: The Associated Press.