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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 January 2006, 02:42 GMT
'Final body' found at German rink
Wide view of the collapsed building and rescue work

Rescuers searching through a collapsed ice rink in southern Germany have recovered the body of a woman from the rubble, raising the death toll to 15.

The 40-year-old woman was believed to be the last person missing in the wreckage of the building.

On Wednesday the bodies of two boys and a girl were pulled from the rubble of Bad Reichenhall's ice rink, which collapsed after heavy snow on Monday.

Pope Benedict XVI, who grew up in the region, has sent his condolences.

Searches were carried out during the night after heavy lifting equipment was brought in to help secure the building, but rescuers say the likelihood of finding survivors has now faded.

All I know is there was a very loud bang, and more I don't know
Elfriede Datz,

There had been some hopes of finding people alive, even 36 hours after the roof collapsed, if gaps in the snow and ice had created an "igloo effect", with warm pockets of air where a person could survive.

Loud bang

Six children aged between nine and 12 were among the first bodies retrieved. A 35-year-old woman was killed, as well as two teenagers. Two further bodies were carried out of the building early on Tuesday afternoon.

Map showing location of Bad Reichenhall

Of the estimated 50 people at the rink at the time, more than 30 people were injured, and more than 10 are still in hospital.

One of the survivors, teenager Elfriede Datz, told N24 television from her hospital bed that "all I know is there was a very loud bang, and more I don't know. I can't remember".

Initial reports suggested the roof caved in after heavy snowfall, but local officials said the roof had been examined on Monday and that the amount of snow was below the building's limit.

But with snow continuing to fall, town officials had been planning to close the rink at the end of Monday's skating session.

German police have begun an official inquiry into the accident.

See the rescue effort before it was suspended

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

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