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German gas explosion and fire kill 14

28 November 2012

An explosion following a gas leak triggered a fierce blaze in a workshop for the disabled in the town of Titisee-Neustadt, near Freiburg in Germany's Black Forest. The fire broke out on November 26 at the workshop, which employs some 120 people with mental or physical disabilities in a variety of jobs including metalwork, woodwork and electrical installation. 

A 50-year-old supervisor died along with 13 disabled people, and a further nine were injured.

Initial indications suggested the fire was sparked by an explosion after gas escaped from a heater, a spokesman for the Freiburg public prosecutor's office told a news conference.

Further investigations are taking place, local officials said, and although a preliminary investigation against unknown persons into suspected negligent manslaughter and arson has been opene, prosecutors said early indications were that it was an accident.

The president of Freiburg's government, Baerbel Schaefer, said the fire protection precautions at the workshop had been "absolutely correct" and the rescue operation had been "exemplary".

Hundreds of firefighters backed by helicopters had battled the fire at the workshop run by the Roman Catholic Caritas welfare association for the mentally and physically disabled.




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