Dealing with the aftermath of the world’s biggest aquarium disaster

It was 5 o’clock in the morning, when a deafening crash broke the silence in the hotel, located in Berlin, Germany. The surprised guests came out of their rooms and met a horrifying scene in the hotel lobby. They saw that the world's biggest cylindrical aquarium, which was six stories high and filled with a million litres of water and 1,500 exotic fish, had suddenly turned into rubble.

The aquarium had burst. A huge wave of saltwater splashed through the hotel and onto the street, damaging up to 28,000 square meters of property. As soon as the disaster was discovered, our colleagues in Polygon Germany were called to site to aid with the aftermaths.

Dirk Neu, Area and Branch Manager of the Polygon Technical Centre II, comments the scene they were met with: “One cannot imagine the scene of the bursting of the giant aquarium. All the furniture in the hotel lobby was washed up to the opposite side of the street. The water simply took everything with it: tables, chairs, doors. Surrounding shops, restaurants, bars - everything was destroyed. There were dead fish everywhere”.

Securing the unique structure

First, the Polygon team provided support in securing the devastated aquarium site and helped clear the surrounding affected streets. For about a week, our colleagues worked with the safety measures at the site, which also required technicians to climb, to access the tall parts of the giant aquarium. The work with securing the aquarium included fastening loose objects, unscrewing dangerously sharp material and dismantling parts of the broken structure, in order to prevent further dangers.

Additionally, pipes and ventilation ducts were cleared from dirt, rubble, and water, so that the authorities could begin their investigations to determine the cause of the disaster. Now the ongoing project consists of drying the large area affected by the aquarium water.

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