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Austrian prosecutors to investigate German company in Kaprun tragedy

Austrian prosecutors said on Monday they will open an investigation into the German manufacturer of a space heater that experts say overheated on a crowded alpine cable car, causing a fire that killed 155 skiers and snowboarders in November 2000. The investigation comes after last week's acquittal of 16 people charged with criminal negligence in the inferno, Austria's most deadly peacetime disaster. Thomas Wegleiter, a spokesman for the public prosecutor's office in Salzburg said that the investigation could lead to charges against the manufacturer, Germany-based Fakir. Lawyers for cable car operator Gletscherbahnen Kaprun AG, some of whose employees were among those acquitted last week, said that Fakir knew about the dangers of the heating unit but failed to follow through with a recall. Fakir has denied any responsibility for the disaster, citing a lack of conclusive evidence linking the heater to the blaze.