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German police probe university poisoning

August 24, 2021

Seven people have been forced to seek medical attention after a poisonous substance was left at a German university. Police are now investigating the suspected attack.

Police and fire services at a cordoned off area of the Technical University Darmstadt campus
Police are looking for the person responsible for poisoning seven people at TU DarmstadtImage: picture alliance/dpa/Keutz TV-News

Police in the central German state of Hesse launched an investigation into a possible case of attempted murder on Tuesday after seven people ingested poison at the Technical University Darmstadt.

One 30-year-old student had been left in a critical condition while the other six required medical attention, a police statement said.

Police said cartons of milk and water containers had been spiked with a "harmful substance," which they described as having a "pungent smell," over the weekend.

The authorities closed off the affected building and took away food that had been on-site for further investigation. They recommended that anyone who shows possible symptoms or whose "extremities turn blueish" seek immediate medical assistance.

What are the police doing?

Authorities have launched a 40-person murder commission under the name "Licht" (the German word for "light"). Further personnel would be added if needed, the statement said.

"The investigations are currently in full swing and the police are doing everything to detect the culprit as soon as possible," the Hesse police said.

The first symptoms appeared on Monday during the day. No other individuals have reported symptoms since then. Police searched other buildings on the campus but found no further traces of the substance.

The police said the situation no longer posed an acute threat.

A sign for the Technical University Darmstadt outside one of the unversity's buildings
Police have said that the poisonous substance no longer poses a threatImage: picture-alliance/dpa/F. May

How did the university respond?

"We are shocked by the apparent offense that happened at our university," the university's president Tanja Bruehl said in a statement.

"I wish the affected all the best, a quick recovery and can assure them my full support," Hesse's science minister, Angela Dorn, said. "Together with the university and investigators, we now need to clarify the situation as quickly as possible."

A statement on the university's website recommended that staff and students, for the next few days, avoid consuming or preparing food that has been stored on the university campus.

ab/nm (dpa, AFP, AP)