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    Unhappy Rescue work temporarily halted at German ice rink

    Rescue work temporarily halted at German ice rink
    Updated Tue. Jan. 3 2006 10:27 AM ET

    CTV.ca News Staff

    Search crews temporarily suspended their rescue efforts Tuesday after the roof of an ice-skating rink collapsed in southern Germany, amid concerns the rest of the structure could cave in.

    An expert survey showed "that it would be irresponsible for more rescue workers to go in," said George Grabner, a local councillor for the region around the Bavarian town of Bad Reichenhall, where at least 11 people died in Monday's accident, including six children.

    Officials hope to resume search efforts later Tuesday, with the arrival of more heavy equipment.

    It's believed that up to six people are still missing in the tragedy, the cause of which is still unclear, although initial reports suggest the flat roof collapsed after a heavy snowfall.

    In total, 18 people were hurt and taken to nearby hospitals while another 16 escaped unscathed.

    As many as 50 people, including families taking advantage of a school vacation to go skating, were inside the rink when the accident occurred.

    Search crews with sniffer dogs and heavy cranes worked in bitter cold through the night to clear masses of snow and debris but hopes for finding survivors dimmed by Tuesday morning.

    Meanwhile, German public television reported that state prosecutors are investigating the collapse after a local ice hockey club official claimed a practice session had been cancelled when town authorities warned there was a risk the facility was unsafe.

    However, "apparently the public skating was still continuing," Thomas Rumpeltes told The Associated Press.

    Mayor Wolfgang Heitmeier dismissed the charges, saying a midday measurement indicated the weight of the snow was well below the point at which it would have posed a risk to the structure.

    Heitmeier told reporters there had been some concern that those levels could be reached Tuesday, and the training session was cancelled only as a precaution.

    The snow was to have been shovelled off Tuesday morning, Heitmeier said.

    However, he said officials did not see any danger on Monday "because the levels were significantly below the limit."

    Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber said now was not the time to assign blame.

    "That's for tomorrow, the day after tomorrow," he said, stressing that the main concern was caring for the survivors.

    Bad Reichenhall, a town of some 15,000 people, is on the border with Austria and about 10 km from the city of Salzburg.

    Picture 1 Caption: Police officers secure the collapsed skating rink in Bad Reichenhall, southern Germany on Tuesday
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    September 11th - Never Forget

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    Sheri
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    Rescue workers clear rubble and debris of the collapsed skating rink in Bad Reichenhall, southern Germany on Tuesday. (AP / Martin Schalk)

    Picture 3 is too big: Rescue workers try to find people under the collapsed roof of a skating rink in Bad Reichenhall, southern Germany on Tuesday. (AP / Diether Endlicher)

    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNew...hub=TopStories
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    Last edited by RspctFrmCalgary; 01-03-2006 at 12:37 PM.
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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    15th body pulled from ice rink
    Victim could be that of a missing 35-year-old mother

    Thursday, January 5, 2006 Posted: 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)

    A woman and boy set up candles in commemoration of the victims.
    Image:

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    Desperate search amid collapsed ice rink. (January 3) (1:33)
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    Manage Alerts | What Is This? BAD REICHENHALL, Germany (CNN) -- A 15th body was found early Thursday in the rubble of a skating rink in southern Germany whose roof collapsed under the weight of snow.

    Police said the person was believed to be the final victim, and could be that of the missing 35-year-old mother of three children killed in the tragedy.

    Thirteen people out of the 18 who were injured remained hospitalized, three with serious -- but not life-threatening -- injuries.

    About 50 people, many children still on Christmas holidays, were inside the ice rink when it collapsed in the town of Bad Reichenhall, close to the border with Austria, on Monday.

    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."

    Pope Benedict XVI, who grew up nearby, sent a message of sympathy to the grieving town.

    "Pope Benedict XVI is remembering in his prayers the people killed in this tragic accident, especially the children, and he is asking the Lord for a speedy help and rescue of those still trapped," a telegram of condolences said, according to The Associated Press.

    Rescue workers recovered three bodies Wednesday, the last a girl aged between 12 and 16 years old.

    "We have to give the sad news that we have found another victim," said Georg Grabner, the chief administrator of the surrounding district of Berchtesgaden.

    "Only one more person lies buried under the rubble."

    The bodies of two boys were found earlier in the day. Rescuers had to clear wreckage with heavy equipment, then sent in teams with dogs trained to detect buried victims.

    Then more workers entered the shaky ruin, digging with shovels and hands and removing debris with wheelbarrows.

    Meanwhile, other structures were checked, and some were evacuated, out of concern that a similar collapse might occur.

    In Traunstein, a train station was evacuated because of heavy snow on its roof, until the snow could be cleared. A store in a nearby area was also blocked off.

    A foot of snow fell in the 24 hours before the collapse; some of the snowfall has been mixed with sleet, adding to its weight.

    About 320 kilometers (200 miles) north of Bad Reichenhall, heavy snow caused the roof of a Lidl supermarket to collapse in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Tuesday night. The store was closed at the time, and the high shelves prevented the roof from crashing to the floor. One employee was slightly hurt.

    After the collapse in southern Germany, it took hours for the cranes to be moved through the snow to the high-elevation area, where they began to lift heavy sections of the rink's roof.

    Michael Posch, a state government spokesman, said six cranes were moved in shortly after the collapse to shore up the roof in an effort to aid rescuers and to keep it from collapsing further. One person was rescued more than six hours after the accident, he said.

    The delay in getting cranes to the site prompted stinging criticism from the press.

    "Slackness, ignorance and ineptitude," screamed the headline in a local newspaper.

    The local prosecutor said he had launched a criminal investigation into the collapse itself, looking for possible negligence.

    There were reports that rink officials had begun evacuating the building shortly before the accident. But Posch said that was not the case.

    "This is not true," he said. "The snow load on the roof was far below the limit that is given for evacuation. And so, the danger was unknown and it wasn't expected."

    CNN Correspondent Chris Burns and Producer Tomas Etzler contributed to this report.

    Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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