10 believed dead as roof collapses at ice rink in Germany

Rescue workers try to locate approximately 10 people still missing, as snow continues to fall.

roof falls germany 298.8 (photo credit: AP)
roof falls germany 298.8
(photo credit: AP)
The roof of an ice rink in the Bavarian Alps collapsed Monday after heavy snowfall; about 50 people were inside, police said. Police said at least 10 people were believed dead, including four children, and about 10 were missing. Rescue workers swarmed onto the scene in the town of Bad Reichenhall, and police using a dog searched for people under the collapsed roof. Police spokesman Fritz Braun told n-tv television that six bodies had been recovered, about 32 were injured and about 10 were still missing. Doctors set up a makeshift infirmary at a building next-door where injured people lay with intravenous hookups. At least three children being carried by rescuers to a Red Cross medical tent were among the injured seen by an AP photographer. The accident happened at about 4 p.m. following heavy snowfall. Fire service officials said the flat roof, the wreckage of which pointed up from the center of the building at an angle, appeared to have collapsed under the weight of snow. Rescue workers in helmets and heavy boots worked in steady snowfall and early evening darkness, and snow was piled deep on the streets of the town. Braun said that "the rescue work is shaping up as very difficult - it is very problematic getting into the hall." The roof could only be lifted with heavy equipment, he said. An official with a local ice hockey club in the town of Bad Reichenhall said he had been told by town authorities half an hour before the accident that a regular practice session for youth players was canceled because there was a risk of the facility collapsing. However, "apparently the public skating was still continuing," Thomas Rumpeltes told The AP. Braun could not immediately confirm the warning of a possible collapse. "I don't have this information," he said. "Until now, there were no indications of a danger of the roof collapsing. The town of Bad Reichenhall did not give us such indications, but we will look into this." A town hall spokeswoman said the accident happened just after the day's official close of business. The building was constructed in the 1970s. The town is in the southeastern corner of Germany, on the border with Austria and about 10 kilometers (six miles) from the Austrian city of Salzburg. Heavy snow was complicating access to the scene; two people were killed in an avalanche in the area several hours before the collapse. Bavarian Red Cross spokeswoman Hanna Hutschenreiter said rescue services had been called in from a wide area around Bad Reichenhall, including from Salzburg. Bavarian Governor 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. The rink measured 60 by 30 meters (200 by 100 feet). The building, with large glass windows around its sides, was attached to a municipal swimming pool and tennis court.