Ice rink owner denies roof weakness was known

5th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

5 January 2006, BAD REICHENHALL, GERMANY - The owner of a covered ice-rink that collapsed this week in Germany under the weight of snow, killing 15 skaters, denied Thursday that engineers had previously noticed a weakness in the roof.

5 January 2006

BAD REICHENHALL, GERMANY - The owner of a covered ice-rink that collapsed this week in Germany under the weight of snow, killing 15 skaters, denied Thursday that engineers had previously noticed a weakness in the roof.

The rink was part of a municipal athletics and pool complex at Bad Reichenhall on the Austrian border. Mayor Wolfgang Heitmeier has been under pressure all week over claims that the town council ignored warnings that the 32-year-old structure had deteriorated.

He disclosed Thursday passages from a report compiled in 2003 by a Bad Reichenhall engineering consultancy which stated that the strength of the wood-beam roof had not been affected by moisture.

Unusually soggy, heavy snow hit the Salzburg urban area, of which Bad Reichenhall is a part, and at least two other wide-span roofs collapsed under its weight this week. But investigators do not yet know why the ice-rink's flat roof failed to hold the load.

Before dawn Wednesday, rescuers recovered the last body, of a 40-year-old woman, after days of anguish for her husband and child. She was found amid packed snow in the wreckage, some distance from where rescuers had expected to find her.

Although all missing persons have now been accounted for, emergency services continued Wednesday stripping all the rubble off the former ice-rink. County chief executive Georg Grabner said this was just in case someone had been forgotten.

"We hope to finish today," his spokesman Christian Abress said.

The disaster claimed the lives of 12 children and three women, believed to be all mothers, and set off a national debate about whether public buildings should be given regular check-ups.

Mayor Heitmeier has insisted all week that the only deterioration in the ice-rink previously noticed by the council was in the refrigeration system and the toilets. Like most German municipal leisure facilities, the ice-rink operated at a loss.

DPA

Subject: German news

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