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Page last updated at 20:46 GMT, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 21:46 UK

Fire at Berlin orchestra's home

Smoke rises from the Berlin Philharmonic near Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Germany
The concert hall is famed for its acoustics

The home of one of the world's greatest orchestras, the Berlin Philharmonic, has been damaged by a fire.

Firefighters had to cut through the roof to tackle the flames, which have now been brought under control.

Hundreds of visitors and musicians were evacuated, and most of the instruments have been moved to safety.

The fire broke out beneath the roof of the building, where welding work was being carried out. Police are investigating that as a possible cause.

After the war this represented all of the hopes of bombed-out Berlin
Pamela Rosenberg
Berlin Philharmonic general manager

The fire broke out early on Tuesday afternoon.

About 300 people were in the building at the time, but they were evacuated without any panic.

Bassoonist Stefan Schweigert said the fire brigade had allowed musicians into the building to remove instruments that had been left in lockers overnight - although some, such as pianos, were too large to move.

The extent of the damage is unclear, but fire officials say the fire did not spread through the building.

The hall - a Berlin landmark - was built in the 1960s, and is famed for its acoustics.

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Firefighters on the rooftop of the Berlin Philharmonic building trying to put out the fire

Pamela Rosenberg, general manager of the Berlin Philharmonic, told the BBC: "After the war this represented all of the hopes of bombed-out Berlin. It was like the Phoenix rising from the ashes."

She added that the hall "really symbolises Berlin".

The Philharmonic, the city's leading orchestra, is directed by Sir Simon Rattle.


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