Victims of Ice Rink Disaster Mourned at Memorial Ceremony | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 08.01.2006
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Germany

Victims of Ice Rink Disaster Mourned at Memorial Ceremony

Hundreds of mourners attended Saturday a service of remembrance in the southern German town of Bad Reichenhall for the 15 people, mostly children, who died when the roof of a local ice rink collapsed this week.

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Those who died in the Bad Reichenhall ice rink disaster were remembered in the service

Police sealed off the area around the Saint Zeno church, where the interdenominational service was held, preventing television crews and photographers from approaching.

"People should have a place set aside for prayer, meditation and a silent time," said the priest Helmut Bauer.

Only passages from the Bible and psalms were read, and loudspeakers relayed the service from the packed church to mourners outside.

The 15 victims were aged between seven and 40. They included three women, five teenagers, and seven children aged between seven and 12. A further 36 people were injured.

Meanwhile, weekly news magazine Der Spiegel, set to hit newsstands on Monday, is reporting that the building's structural weaknesses may have led to its collapse.

The magazine quotes an engineer who examined the rubble of the building several hours after the accident, and who noted an absence of sealed joints on at least five of the 20 places where the wooden structure buckled.

These weak points could have been the cause of the roof's collapse, says Der Spiegel.

Rettungskraefte arbeiten am Dienstag, 3. Januar 2006, auf und unter dem Dach der eingestuerzten Eishalle in Bad Reichenhall Eissporthalle

The disaster was attributed to structural defects currently under investigation.

The roof of the rink, built in 1971, was largely flat and was weighed down by at least 180 tons of thick snow when it collapsed on Monday just before the rink was due to close.

The magazine said the roof's poor state had been known for some time.

An inquiry is looking into the causes of the accident.

Saturday's service also remembered three skiers who died in an avalanche near the town on Monday, the day of the disaster at the ice rink.

Bavarian state premier Stoiber mourns with families

The service was attended by Edmund Stoiber, president of the state of Bavaria in which the town is situated, and by relatives of those who died and by rescue workers.

German President Horst Köhler was to have attended but according to Bauer bad weather prevented his aircraft from landing at Salzburg, in Austria, nearby.

But he was due to travel to Bad Reichenhall via Munich during the day to sign a book of condolences.

An official ceremony will be held Tuesday and will be attended by several members of the government.

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