Germany: Deadly Fire At Workshop For Disabled

Germany: Deadly Fire At Workshop For Disabled

Fourteen people have been confirmed dead after a fire at a workshop for people with disabilities in Germany.

Eight other people were injured in the blaze, which happened in the town of Titisee-Neustadt in southwestern Germany.

Karl-Heinz Schmid, a spokesman for police in the nearby city of Freiburg, told local news channel N24: "We can tell you that we have 14 dead. The process of identification is ongoing.

"We also have a large number of injured who have been taken to hospital," said Mr Schmid, adding it was too early to determine how serious the injuries were.

Around 300 firefighters backed by helicopters battled the flames after the fire broke out at around 2pm local time (1pm GMT).

The injured, some in wheelchairs, were helped to helicopters and ambulances as dense smoked billowed out of the three-storey building.

Authorities are working to determine the cause of the fire. Police said an explosion had taken place.

The workshop employed 120 people with either mental or physical disabilities in a variety of jobs, including metalwork, woodwork and electrical installation.

It was not clear whether chemicals were stored in the building, but the workshop's activities included the treatment of wood.

The centre in the Black Forest region is run by the Catholic Church's Caritas organisation.

Caritas president Peter Neher said: "We know the colleagues at the scene will do everything to find out the cause for this terrible event."

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeted that she was "appalled" by the fire and was receiving updates from Winfried Kretschmann, the state premier of Baden-Wuerttemberg, where the fire took place.

Mr Kretschmann himself said: "My thoughts go out to the victims and my deepest condolences go to their families. The whole of Baden-Wuerttemberg mourns with them."

The local Red Cross sent 80 people to the scene to lend assistance, while 25 counsellors were seeing relatives of the victims.

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