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Germany

Careless New Year's revellers damage historical church altar

A fire at a church in Aachen on New Year's Eve may have caused irreparable damage to a historic altar. Police say a firework set off by New Year's revellers was to blame for the blaze.

Fire fighters in the Nikolaus Church

Fire fighters got the fire under control

As party-goers rang in the New Year in the western German city of Aachen early on Saturday morning, a fire at a the Nikolaus Church seems to have caused irreparable damage to a historic altar.

Police suspect the fire was caused by a wayward New Year's Eve firework.

Dieter Spoo, a lay official of the Catholic Diocese of Aachen, said the damage was around 300,000 euro ($400,000).

Spoo said 17th-century paintings, stained-glass windows, and the altar suffered damage in the fire. The 8-meter back of the wooden altar was completely destroyed, as was a painting on the front depicting the crucifixion of Christ.

"I don't believe it can be restored," Spoo said.

The Gothic church was built in 1327, and the altar dates back to the 1630. The paintings on the altar are attributed to the school of Peter Paul Rubens, a Flemish artist.

The altar had been the dominant feature of the Nikolaus Kirche in the inner city of Aachen near the Dutch border. The church is jointly used by Catholic and Lutheran congregations.

Author: Matt Zuvela (dpa, apn)
Editor: Toma Tasovac

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