Woman dies as crane hits apartment during storm


Several people were injured when a crane collapsed and crashed into their building at the coast, with winds reaching up to 100kph

‘Like a warzone’

A woman died and several people were injured when a crane crashed into an apartment block in Nieuwpoort during heavy winds on Wednesday evening.

The local mayor, Geert Vanden Broucke, described the site as “looking like a warzone”. “The crane has caused incredible damage,” he told VRT. It fell on two buildings opposite one another, with the top three floors of the Mosselbank apartment building suffering the worst damage. Several cars were also damaged.

A 73-year-old woman died in the incident and her husband is critically injured, while two other people have since been discharged from hospital.

The city has declared the top three floors of the apartment uninhabitable. More than 70 residents had to spend the night in hotels and have been unable to return to their homes. Workers are continuing to clear the site of rubble today but say there is no risk of the building collapsing.

In November it was thought there was a risk that the crane would collapse and 50 residents had to leave their apartments as a precaution. Vanden Broucke told VRT that the city later had confirmation that the crane was safe; an investigation will now take place to examine the exact circumstances of this incident.

During the storm at the coast, winds reached speeds of up to 100kph. The football match between KV Oostende and RC Genk was called off shortly before kick-off after storm winds damaged one of the stadium’s terraces and security services decided they could not guarantee the safety of spectators. “It quickly became clear that it would be irresponsible to play, for the players and for the fans," Oostende general director Patrick Orlans said in a video message. 

Photo courtesy VRT