Swiss gym festival tent collapse injures 39

Thirty nine people were injured, six of them seriously, when a marquee tent collapsed at the federal gymnastics festival in Biel in the canton of Bern on Thursday evening as a vicious storm swept through western and northwestern Switzerland.

Swiss gym festival tent collapse injures 39
Photo: Schweiz Aktuell/SRF

Bern cantonal police confirmed the injury count as media reports told of devastation at the festival site after heavy rain and winds gusting above 100 kilometres an hour hit the festival site for the second time in a week.

Ambulances from the cantons of Bern, Solothurn and Neuchâtel took the victims to hospitals, with help from the Swiss army.

At a press conference police said 33 of the victims were not seriously injured.

The festival was forced to cancel an opening ceremony on Thursday evening last week, also due to high winds.

The latest storm was more serious, according to media reports.

“People were running for their lives,” said Matthias Rusch, an editor with Swiss broadcaster SRF.

He described how the marquee tent flipped in the air and many people were trapped under the debris.

Hundreds of people are camping in tents at the festival, many of which were thrown into the air and scattered around the grounds.

The storm originated from France and tracked through Geneva starting around 4pm, moving across the northwest of Switzerland through the cantons of Vaud, Bern, Neuchâtel, Jura and Basel.

Winds gusting up to 130 kilometres an hour were recorded in Geneva.

Hailstones as big as five centimetres in diameter were reported in Neuchâtel.

The storm, coming a day before the first official start of summer, passed rapidly through the country, lasting just 15 minutes in Geneva before moving on.

It came on the heels of a four-day heatwave in Switzerland with temperatures well above 30 degrees, a period that followed earlier bouts of heavy rain and windstorms.

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New storm to hit Switzerland on Thursday

The Swiss bureau of meteorology, MeteoSwiss, has issued a storm warning for Switzerland for Thursday. Activity is forecast to peak from noon until night.

New storm to hit Switzerland on Thursday
A file photo of a storm over Lake Geneva. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The new front, which has formed in the British Isles, is set to arrive in Switzerland around lunchtime. The warning level has been set at 3 out of a possible 5 for the majority of the country, with only the Lake Geneva region given a lower rating (of 2 out of 5). 

Named ’Tomris’ in German, it is set to bring winds of up to 100km/h on the lowlands and of up to 120km/h in mountainous areas. 

READ: Why do storms in Switzerland have two names? 

Rain and snow are also expected. 

While conditions are set to run for most of the day on Thursday, a clear front is predicted to move in and bring with it sunnier weather on Friday heading into the weekend. 

Several lowland areas have predicted temperatures of 14 degrees on Sunday. 

Warmest winter on record

Despite the storm fronts which have gripped the country for over a week, the winter has been mild from a temperature perspective. 

With averages 2.5 degrees higher than the previous high set in the winter of 2006-07, this winter is set to be the warmest ever recorded. 



Another record was broken in Zurich on Wednesday.

The mark of February 12th is the latest date in the season that the city has not seen snowfall. Zurich’s weather is not predicted to drop below zero in the coming week, meaning a new record will be set. 

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