AMSTERDAM — The monumental chestnut tree that cheered Anne Frank while she was in hiding from the Nazis was toppled Monday by wind and heavy rain.
The once-mighty tree, now diseased and rotted through the trunk, snapped about 3 feet above ground and crashed across several gardens. It damaged a brick wall and several sheds, but nearby buildings — including the Anne Frank House museum — escaped unscathed. No one was injured, a museum spokeswoman said.
"Someone yelled, 'It's falling. The tree is falling,' and then you heard it go down," said museum spokeswoman Maatje Mostart. "Luckily no one was hurt."
A global campaign to save the chestnut, widely known as the Anne Frank Tree, was launched in 2007 after city officials deemed it a safety hazard and ordered it felled. The tree was granted a reprieve after a battle in court.
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The 150-year-old tree suffered from fungus and moths that had caused more than half its trunk to rot.
Two years ago city workmen encased the trunk in a steel support system to prevent it from falling, but that failed under windy weather Monday.
The Netherlands' Trees Institute, one of the most prominent supporters of the preservation project, said it was "unpleasantly surprised" by the news of the tree's fall early Monday afternoon.
The institute said it didn't know why the support structure had failed.
Many clones of the tree have been taken, including 11 planted at sites around the United States and dozens more around Europe, including 150 at a single park in Amsterdam. It is not clear whether a new tree will replace the original one on the same spot, since it grew in the backyard of a private home.