Balmy Austrian winter melts Christmas tree

Unprecedented balmy temperatures at the start of Austria’s winter have melted away a towering Christmas tree of ice a week after it went on display.

“Warm rain penetrated the structure. To prevent the risk of parts of it falling on passers-by, we had to remove it. Now it’s dissolving into water,” Helmut Ellensohn, of Klagenfurt Marketing in the provincial city, said.

The tree, fashioned from 30 tonnes of imported Belgian ice by internationally known ice sculptor Gert Hoedl, was erected on December 6 to add some unusual Christmas cheer to Klagenfurt.

Ellensohn said then that while officials expected the tree might “drip, and the contours might blur,” it should hold up through Christmas Day on December 25. But temperatures persisting well over the freezing mark plus a bout of heavy rain, typifying what meteorologists say has been the warmest beginning to winter in the Alps for 1300 years, finished off the 5.4-metre tree.

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