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Germany and Turkey mourn eight fire victims

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Germany and Turkey mourn eight fire victims
Photo: DPA
11:08 CET+01:00
Politicians and diplomats joined friends and neighbours in southern Germany to mourn seven children and their mother who died in a house fire on Sunday. Police suspect the cause to be a faulty wood oven.

The youngest of the victims was a six-month-old baby, who along with six siblings and their mother died after a fire swept through their reportedly ramshackle flat in the village of Backnang near Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Thick smoke filled the flat and is thought to have suffocated all seven while they were sleeping, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said on Monday.

An 11-year-old boy and his grandparents survived thanks to Christos Kiroglou, who runs a Turkish-German society in the building and who kicked down several doors to reach the flat and managed to get the three people out.

“Everyone gave it their all until the fire brigade arrived,” he told the newspaper.

As the seven victims were Turkish, the country's Ambassador to Germany Hüseyin Avni Karslioglu travelled to Backnang to pay his respects, as did Turkey's Consul General Mustafa Türker Ari.

Baden-Württemberg State Premiere Winifried Kretschmann, State Interior Minister Renihold Gall also visited the building - a converted leather factory.

Turkish media representatives turned out in force, as did neighbours and friends who laid flowers, cards and soft toys near the flat.

While it took hours for the fire services to put out the blaze and most of the day for emergency services to recover all the bodies, police were quick to say they did not suspect the tragedy to have been a xenophobic attack.

More likely they said, was that the flat's wood burning oven – which was apparently the family's only source of heat – caused the fire.

Others said the building was in poor condition and had bad electric wiring. Police spokesman Klaus Hinderer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung he thought it should be torn down.

Hinderer, who has been in the police 42 years said he had “never experienced something like this. Not because of a fire.”

The children's father was not in the building at the time and is thought to have split from the mother and moved out. He was reported to have undertaken lots of repairs around the five-room flat himself.

The Local/jcw

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