Nine killed in German tenement-building fire

4th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

The blaze broke out just after the city's Carnival parade ended.

Ludwigshafen, Germany -- A fire in a four-storey tenement building in the German city of Ludwigshafen claimed nine lives and injured around 60, police in the southwestern city said Monday.

The fire broke out just after a carnival parade through the city had finished Sunday afternoon. Police and firefighters on crowd duty were at the site instantly, but could not save people trapped in the third storey.

Rescuers who entered the burning building an hour later by ladder found two children who had taken refuge under a couch and carried them out alive, fire authorities said.

Guests had been in the upper apartments to watch the parade and it took many hours for police to list all the occupants and realize the scale of the incident. During the night, eight bodies were found in the ruined building. One woman died in hospital.

A fire-services doctor said the remaining 20 people being treated in hospital were not in critical condition.

The dead and injured were trapped when the stairwell in the brick and plaster building was blocked by flames.

Several people were hurt jumping in panic from upstairs windows before rescue workers could set up a cushion.

Eva Lohse, mayor of the city, said she had cancelled the remaining two days of carnival celebrations in the mourning city. Just before the blaze, 250,000 people had been cheering and laughing on nearby streets.

The annual season of parades and merrymaking normally continues till Tuesday, Mardi Gras.

Crowds in costume watched the firefighters and partying went on nearby for hours, with many people unaware till early Monday of the tragedy.

The fire chief said that although 500 rescuers were at the site, it would have been too dangerous to extinguish the fire with torrents of water because this would have flashed into steam, killing people trapped inside.

Investigators would have to wait to seek the cause and make a last check for bodies because the building was in danger of collapse.

Most of the tenants in the low-rent building, close to the town hall of Ludwigshafen, were ethnic Turks. The city is an industrial centre with large chemicals factories.

DPA with Expatica

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