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Apartment fire in Black Forest town claims two lives

At least two people have died in a large fire that broke out in the southern German town of Neubulach overnight. Several residents are in hospital with smoke inhalation.

Emergency services arrived at the burning three-story apartment block in the center of the small spa town at around midnight, authorities said Tuesday.

"On our arrival, the first residents of the house were already stood by the windows. As a result, our first priority was getting them to safety. I was happy the my firefighters were able to this quickly enough to prevent any further harm to people," the head of the rescue operation in Neubulach, Cetin Karanci, said.

More than 100 firefighters and 18 fire trucks took three hours to put out the blaze. Using ladders, the rescue team managed to get 16 people out of the building - seven of them were taken to hospital with smoke inhalation.

Firefighters later found the bodies of a man and a woman inside the charred structure.

"Unfortunately help came too late for two of the residents," the local fire service said in a statement.

Police have launched an investigation into the cause of the blaze. They say damage to the building amounted to several hundred thousand euros.

Neubulach, a Black Forest town in the state of Baden-Württemberg, is home to around 5,500 people.

nm/msh (AFP, dpa)