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Sandstorm causes deadly, 80-car pileup in Germany

/ Source: The Associated Press

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.

Apr. 8, 2011 - Kavelstorf, Germany - Firemen at the scene of a multiple car pile-up on Autobahn A19 in Kavelstorf. During a sandstorm near Rostok, dozens of cars and trucks smashed into each other in both directions, some of them catching on fire. According to police reports, there have been numerous deaths. (Credit Image: © Bernd Wuestneck/DPA/ Wuestneck / DPA

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.

A worker moves a burnt out car on the motorway A 19 near eastern German village of Kavelstorf, near Rostock, April 8 , 2011. More than 80 vehicles crashed and some of them burned during a sandstorm on A 19 highway on Friday. Eight people were killed and about 97 wounded in the accident, German media reported. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer (GERMANY - Tags: DISASTER IMAGES OF THE DAY)FABIAN BIMMER / X02840

"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.