The tornado hit the German city, causing extensive damage

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BERLIN – A tornado hit the western German town of Lipstad, causing heavy damage, officials said, leaving large parts of the country on storm alert on Friday.

The regional fire service said all available rescuers were being deployed to Lipstad. Videos posted on social media showed a large amount of debris flying through the air, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

“The entire city area (…) suffered extensive damage,” the fire service said.

Meteorologists warned that heavy rain and hail were expected in parts of the west and central parts of the country on Friday, with winds of up to 130 kilometers (61 miles per hour) due to the storm.

The storm in West Germany on Thursday disrupted traffic, uprooted trees that fell on railroad tracks and roads, and alerted after hundreds of basements were flooded.

Police say two French nationals were killed when their motorized paraglider was caught in a powerful gust of wind shortly after takeoff Thursday from an airport in Ballanstad, about 175 kilometers (more than 100 miles) southwest of Berlin. Saxony-Anhalt State Police said the 59-year-old couple was asked to land because of the forecast of sudden weather changes.

Shortly after the warning, “they were hit by a gust of wind. The paraglider appears to have crashed and the plane crashed into a field at a height of about 40 meters (131 feet),” police said.

Schools in the western city of Cologne were closed before noon to allow students to reach home safely before the storm hit.

Further south in Ahrweiler County, all schools were closed on Friday. More than 130 people died in the region due to flash floods in July 2021.

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