Video: Sandstorm causes massive pileup in Germany

updated 4/8/2011 7:19:42 PM ET 2011-04-08T23:19:42

A sandstorm in northern Germany caused a huge highway pileup Friday that killed eight people and injured at least 41 others, police said.

Rostock police spokesman Volker Werner said rescue operations were still under way and the death toll could rise.

At least 41 people were injured, many of them seriously, and were brought to nearby hospitals. Others who suffered shocks or bruising received treatment on the spot, Werner said.

Image: Firemen at the scene of a multiple car pile-up on Autobahn A19 in Kavelstorf in Germany
Bernd Wuestneck  /  DPA via Zuma Press
A fireman stands at the scene of a multiple car pile-up on Autobahn A19 in Germany.

In total some 110 people in 80 cars and three trucks were involved in the crash a few kilometers from the Baltic Sea, Werner said. At least 17 vehicles caught fire, including a truck carrying flammable material.

"Unfortunately, it looks like the death toll could rise further," Werner said. Several corpses were thought to be in the burnt vehicles, he added.

Image: Forklift removes car
Fabian Bimmer  /  Reuters
A burned out car is removed from the pileup Friday.
"One truck has crashed on a car, so we don't know yet how many people are in the car below it," he said.

The crash in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania state was caused by a sandstorm, but it was unclear if this was down to a sudden lack of visibility or by sand on the road, Werner said.

Strong winds may have carried the sand from nearby fields — one of them freshly ploughed — to the four-lane highway, Werner said.

The region has recently experienced prolonged dry conditions, affecting agriculture and leaving many soils exposed to erosion.

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