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Journalist covering German protest against tree-felling, dies in fall


Kerpen, (Germany)  –   A Journalist covering a protest against the clearing of woodland to make way for coal mining fell to his death near the German town of Kerpen on Wednesday.

Police said the journalist, who had for some time been observing activists in the tree houses they had built in Hambach Forest, had fallen some 15 metres while negotiating a bridge suspended between two trees.

His death was unrelated to efforts to remove the protestors and destroy their tree houses, a police spokesman at the scene, which lies just to the west of Cologne, said.

The bridge apparently broke while the journalist was on it.

Attempts to administer first aid proved fruitless and the man died at the scene.

Police immediately halted their operation to clear the forest which has been running for a week.

By Wednesday 39 of 51 tree houses had been demolished, they said.

The activist group “Hambi bleibt’’ (Hambi stays) is protesting against plans by power generation company RWE to fall part of the forest to make way for an open-cast lignite mine.

The protest, with tree houses as high as 25 metres, has been running for six years.

The activists claimed that the forest, with its centuries-old beech and oak trees, has a history going back 12,000 years, similarly contains protected animal species, including Bechstein’s bat, the agile frog and the hazel dormouse.

The group demanded an immediate halt to the clearance. “We urge the police and RWE to leave the forest immediately and to halt this dangerous operation,” it said on its blog.

It described the journalist as a “friend who has been watching us in the forest for a long time’’.

He had apparently been trying to get closer to where police were conducting their operations.

Police have not released his identity.

RWE says felling the trees is essential to maintain electricity generation in the region’s lignite-fired power stations.


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