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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 January 2006, 08:01 GMT
Battle to rescue German skaters
Collapsed roof
There are fears that the roof could collapse further
Rescue workers are still battling to find survivors after the roof of an ice rink collapsed in southern Germany, leaving at least 10 people dead.

Up to 50 people were on the rink in the Bavarian town of Bad Reichenhall when the roof caved in on Monday afternoon.

Six bodies have been removed, including those of four children, and four bodies have been found but not yet pulled out of the debris.

Others have been reported missing, but it is unclear how many may be trapped.

"We will keep looking until we find the very last person," said local official Rudi Zeif. "But the chances of rescuing someone are of course getting lower the longer the search goes on."

'Immense weight'

Some 360 firefighters, police and soldiers are at the scene, and a state of emergency has been declared in the area.

Six cranes are being used to lift debris, and officials say about half the rink is now accessible to emergency workers. But their work has been hampered by fears about the structural safety of the building.

Map showing location of Bad Reichenhall

Meanwhile, allegations by the chairman of a local ice hockey club that a training session was cancelled after the local authorities warned the building was unsafe have fuelled local outrage.

"Ice skating for the public evidently still went on," Thomas Rumpeltes told ZDF television.

While officials initially said the flat roof had caved in under the weight of the snow, the authorities have since expressed reservations about that explanation and a full investigation has been launched.

'Catastrophic'

Local schools are still on holiday and many children and families had gone skating.

Four children aged between seven and 12 were among the bodies retrieved. A 35-year-old woman was killed, as well as a young man.

Late on Monday evening, a six-year-old girl was pulled alive from the wreckage of the building, suffering mild hypothermia. No-one has been found alive since.

In total, 18 people were taken to hospital, and 16 emerged from the rink unscathed.

Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber said he was "deeply shaken" by news of the accident.

"Our hopes now rest with the rescue forces at the scene, who are doing everything they can," he said.

He is due to arrive at the scene of the incident on Tuesday morning, where he is expected to give a news conference.


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SEE ALSO:
In pictures: German ice rink collapse
03 Jan 06 |  In Pictures


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