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A 50-Foot Aquarium Holding Thousands of Fish Burst All Over the Lobby of a Berlin Hotel

Almost all of the fish died in the incident, but luckily no people were seriously injured.

The AquaDom in June 2022 Annette Riedl/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

What was once a scene of wonder became a scene of devastation on Friday morning in Berlin: A 50-foot-high, 264,000-gallon aquarium full of sea creatures collapsed.

The AquaDom, located at the Radisson Hotel in the city’s Alexanderplatz square, had given way at 5:45 am, sending water gushing into the street and killing nearly all of the 1,500 tropical fish that lived within it, according to The New York Times. Luckily, the tragedy happened early enough in the day that not many people were around, with only two sustaining minor injuries.

“It’s a tragedy for the fish,” Markus Kamrad, an official at the Berlin Senate responsible for animal protection, told the Times. “We were lucky that it happened at a time that only two people were slightly injured. But it’s unfortunate, of course, that so many fish died.”

The cause of the incident is still unknown, although police have said they don’t suspect foul play and local media are reporting that it was likely a technical fault. The hotel released a statement saying that it was working with local authorities to determine what happened, and that the property would remain closed until further notice.

The scene outside the hotel after the AquaDom collapse
The scene outside after the collapse. John MacDougall/AFP via Getty Images

The AquaDom, built in 2003, was described by its makers as the largest free-standing cylindrical aquarium in the world. It had a diameter of 38-feet and surrounded a glass elevator where riders could view the fish within. Recently, the tank had been renovated and reopened to the public.

Unfortunately, the damage wasn’t constrained to just the Radisson. The entire street block was affected by the deluge of water, with plants being uprooted and nearby shops being ruined. Local media estimated that the wave of water rushing out of the hotel would have weighed about 100 tons. Some on the scene expressed disbelief that no one had been killed by the collapse.

And while most of the fish died in the accident, a few did end up surviving. Firefighters worked to save hundreds of fish in the hotel’s basement, and a handful of coral reef fish at the base of the AquaDom continued to live in a pool of water left behind. Those that did make it were transferred to nearby aquariums, Kamrad told The New York Times.

“The good news is that we really were able to save many protected and rare species,” he said.

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