Giant Hotel Aquarium Most Likely Burst Due To Botched Renovations

A giant Berlin aquarium that shattered in the foyer of one of Berlin’s biggest hotels sending 1,400 tropical fish gushing in the lobby had allegedly exploded because of renovation errors.

Plastics Engineering expert Dr Christian Bonten from the University of Stuttgart, Germany, said the 14-metre-high (46 feet) AquaDom most probably disintegrated due to botched renovations in 2020.

He added that the massive structure had then been thrust in a southwestern direction by the force of water flooding ding out the other side.

He said however that the background reasons were narrowed down to three possible theories, but admitted that the true trigger of the disaster may never be known.

Bonten added: “It’s frustrating.”


Those included defects in the adhesive used to join up the panels, damage incurred in replacing the base that led to small cracks, or a degrading of parts of the tank.

The expert and his team analysed about 700 shards of the acrylic glass that composed the world’s largest free-standing cylindrical aquarium in the Radisson Blu Hotel, in Berlin.

Boten explained that all parts, weighing about 90 tonnes, were labelled and mapped before they were brought on semi-trailers to a warehouse in Brandenburg.

There, they were measured, subjected to tear tests, chemically analysed, and tested whether they were sensitive to vibration.

Boten said: “What happened when it shattered happened suddenly and without warning.”

Image shows the 25-meter (82-foot) aquarium before it burst in downtown Berlin, Germany, undated photo. The incident happened on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022. (CEN)

He explained that the team was able to identify which direction the massive cylinder collapsed in, and said: “The aquarium fell in a southwestern direction.

“There must have been a strong impulse on the opposite side for this to happen. This could only have been a water leak. An impulse, stronger than a shot.”

Bonten continued: “When the base area was renovated in 2019/2020 due to a defective seal, the old mortar was removed.

“This may have caused notches in the base of the aquarium.”

“It was not professional that the aquarium was left without water for four and a half months and the acrylic glass dried out.

“This prompted cracks that may have spread slowly until a larger adhesive seam opened up.”

However, Bonten concluded: “We have no clear evidence for the different damage hypotheses.”

The huge tank, considered the world’s largest free-standing cylindrical aquarium, disintegrated without warning in the early hours of 16th December 2022.

It reportedly sent one million litres of water and its 1,500 fish inside spilling out into the hotel complex.

Image shows the fish in the AquaDom before its explosion in the city of Berlin, Germany, undated photo. The Berlin Zoo reported that the rescued fish have recovered well on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. (CEN)

One employee and two guests who did not suffer serious injuries and were not named were later treated in the hospital after having suffered light injuries from glass splinters.

Most of the fish perished in the accident, but around 200 were saved and were taken to the Berlin Zoo.

Media revealed that the Union Investment insurance company, which owns the complex, would cover the double-digit million range damage, as reconstructions in the lobby have begun.

It is not clear when the hotel will reopen, however, a total of 17 stores will be put back in operation in November.

However, the insurance will have to cover the damage in the double-digit million range.

Union Investment spokesperson Fabian Hellbusch said that the lobby would be redesigned but added: “.. it will not include an aquarium.”

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