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Eight killed in sand storm pile-up

A sand storm in northern Germany has caused a huge motorway pile-up that killed eight people and injured at least 41 others.

Rostock police spokesman Volker Werner said the death toll could rise.

At least 41 people were injured, many of them seriously, and were taken to nearby hospitals. Others who suffered shock or bruising received treatment at the scene.

In total some 110 people in 80 cars and three lorries were involved in the crash a few miles from the Baltic Sea. At least 17 vehicles caught fire, including a truck carrying flammable material.

"Unfortunately, it looks like the death toll could rise further," Mr Werner said. Several bodies were thought to be in the burnt vehicles, he added.

"One truck has crashed on a car, so we don't know yet how many people are in the car below it," he said.

The crash in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania state was caused by a sand storm, but it was unclear if this was down to a sudden lack of visibility or by sand on the road.

Strong winds may have carried the sand from nearby fields - one of them freshly ploughed - to the four-lane highway, Mr Werner said.

The region has recently experienced prolonged dry conditions, affecting agriculture and leaving many soils exposed to erosion.

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