Germany: Freak sandstorm causes deadly motorway pile-up

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A freak sandstorm that swept across a motorway in northern Germany caused a multiple pile-up, leaving eight people dead and dozens injured.

Sand and dirt were blown on to the four-lane A19 near Rostock, close to the Baltic Sea in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania state, on Friday.

The pile-up involved 80 cars and three lorries, with 20 vehicles set ablaze.

A combination of recent dry weather, ploughing of fields and high winds was blamed for the accident.

At least 41 people were hurt. Many suffered serious injuries and there are fears the death toll could rise.

One motorist, named only as Steffen, told reporters that "all of a sudden, there was a black wall of sand and then I couldn't see anything any more and I was pushed into another car".

He added: "I have never seen anything like it before and it's difficult to describe. I think I will only later realise what happened. I think this is my second birthday today."

All of the fatalities appear to have occurred on the northbound carriageway.

One of the lorries involved there was carrying inflammable material and sparked several fires.

About 30 vehicles crashed on the southbound carriageway.

The road was closed in both directions as rescue work continued.