Local news translated – Jan 19, 2024

Graphic by U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Host Nation Update, Jan. 19, 2024

Explosion in Stuttgart-Vaihingen – How did the gas get into the house?

The gas leak has been found: On Thursday afternoon, the energy supply company Netze BW was able to report this partial result of the investigation into the cause of an explosion on Vaihingen’s Katzenbachstraße on Wednesday. The road had been dug up for this purpose. According to Hans-Jörg Großcurth, spokesman for Netze BW, a section of the road in front of the affected house and to the left and right of it was cut off. This had the pleasant consequence for residents that they were reconnected to the power supply after just under 24 hours. However, the gas supply to three houses was still interrupted due to the disconnected section of pipeline.

A gas explosion is considered likely, but one fact is worth noting: according to the energy supplier Netze BW, the house in which it occurred had no gas connection at all. How an explosion could still have occurred in the house needs to be investigated. However, the search for the leak had priority on Thursday, said Christoph Müller, Managing Director of Netze BW, during the visit to Katzenbachstrasse. “Seeing the scene of the accident and talking to the residents left me very concerned,” said Müller after his visit. Our first priority now is to find and close the suspected gas leak in the pipe in the street. Only then can the power supply be restored, which would greatly improve the situation for local residents. We then have to determine the cause of the accident in detail.”  The energy supply company had also measured the gas concentration in several houses near the accident site on Wednesday. An increased concentration had only been detected in one case. The house had been ventilated.

According to Netze BW, the gas supply in the area was not interrupted at any time. Only the electricity had been cut off. Nevertheless, several households had no heating in the evening and at night, as the gas-powered heating systems only work with electricity.

The explosion happened at around 1.20 p.m. on Wednesday. When the fire department arrived, the side wall of the house facing the street had already collapsed. A 58-year-old female resident was in the house at the time of the explosion. She was able to get herself to safety and was taken to hospital with minor injuries. Initially, a small dog was still missing, but the fire department was able to get it out of the house within a short time. The explosion also caused a fire in the building, which the fire department extinguished after an hour. (SN Jan 19, 2024)

Major operation at “Mercaden” mall in Böblingen – 500 people brought to safety

The Mercaden mall was evacuated on Thursday afternoon due to an explosives alarm. As it turned out, the suspicious suitcase only contained items of clothing – but initially the police had to assume the worst: “Everyone out!” was the word on the street in the Böblingen shopping center at around 3 pm.

An employee of a store reported: “A woman put down a suitcase and then ran away.” According to initial findings, this was around 2.30 pm. A short time later, the police called out a large-scale operation. There were around 500 people in the building, who were first asked to leave by security and then by the police. In the meantime, more police blocked off first the forecourt of the Mercaden and then the entire Talstrasse. This cut off bus traffic at the nearby bus station and many passengers were unable to continue their journey. Bahnhofstrasse was crowded with people streaming out of the Mercaden and initially standing in front of the building, undecided.

At around 4 p.m., specialists from the State Office of Criminal Investigation arrived with two vehicles. A robot rolled out of a white van on chains, which is guided into the shopping mall through the night entrance by the emergency services. “These robots have X-ray machines and can scan the contents of a suspicious object,” explains Steffen Grabenstein from police headquarters. Meanwhile, more and more emergency vehicles arrived at the station square, the fire department arrived with several vehicles, the rescue services had prepared for the worst and transported rescue equipment into the interior of the Mercaden. The fire department rolled out its hoses in case there would be an explosion. Due to the closure of the station forecourt, car traffic in Wolfgang-Brumme-Allee and the eastern Talstraße had come to a standstill.

At around 4.45 pm, the specialists from the State Office of Criminal Investigation came out of the side entrance to the Mercaden wearing thick olive green protective suits. They have taken off their helmets and looked relaxed. But it still took half an hour before the experts are sure that the suspicious suitcase only contained items of clothing. The operation then was over, and the police were looking for the owner of the suitcase. (SN, Jan 19, 2024)


Sunny and cold – Winter is here to stay in Baden-Württemberg

Winter conditions will remain in Baden-Württemberg on Friday. There will be permafrost from 400 meters above sea level, according to a spokesperson for the German Weather Service (DWD) in Stuttgart on Thursday. It will become increasingly sunny. Maximum temperatures of two degrees are expected in the Upper Rhine region during the day and in the state capital of Baden-Württemberg the temperature should then be just above freezing. At the weekend, there will still be permafrost in places. It will remain dry, the DWD spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, Deutsche Bahn continued to have problems with long-distance services to France. ICE trains between Stuttgart and Paris were canceled on Thursday due to the weather conditions in France. ICE trains between Frankfurt(Main), Mannheim and Paris are also currently not running, as the railroad’s POC announced. Passengers traveling within Germany can use other trains. The train connection has been canceled. International travelers can use their ticket at a later date if a reservation is made for the train. Reservations are free of charge.

The French TGV trains are exempt from the cancellations on the routes. The reason is that the German trains are more susceptible to damage from falling lumps of ice and whirling ballast stones on the French high-speed line to Paris. However, a TGV with the number 9578 from Stuttgart to Paris also broke down. (SN, Jan 19, 24)