German carnival parades halted by storm

Revellers attend the annual Rose Monday parade in hard rain in Cologne, Germany. (08/02/2016) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The centuries-old tradition of carnival in Germany culminates in Rose Monday celebrations

Traditional carnival parades have been called off in a number of west German cities and towns because of warnings of storms on Monday.

Duesseldorf, Muenster, Essen and Mainz are among the major centres to have cancelled events on Rose Monday.

However, Cologne is going ahead with its parade, with some restrictions.

The city stepped up policing for its first major public event since New Year, when many women were victims of sexual assaults and mugging.

More than one million people were expected to attend events in Cologne for carnival week, which began last Thursday.

Ahead of the carnival, organizers printed leaflets in Arabic and other languages explaining the event and stressing there would be zero tolerance by police over sexual assaults, the Deutsche Welle website reported.

Many of the assaults on New Year's Eve were blamed on migrants, especially from North Africa.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Carnival turns Cologne into a huge street party
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Duesseldorf's annual parade is now expected to take place later in the year
Image copyright AP
Image caption The police presence in Cologne has been stepped up for the duration of the carnival

Other cities reported to have called off their Rose Monday parades because of the weather include Krefeld and Hagen.

German weather forecasters said a low-pressure system was expected to bring gales on Monday, with winds gusting at up to 100 km/h (60 mph) in places. Thunderstorms and heavy showers could also be expected.

Duesseldorf's carnival committee leader Michael Laumen told ARD TV that the gale warnings made it "simply too dangerous" to go ahead with the parade.

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