11 Killed, Including 4 Americans, in Restaurant Fire
FRANKFURT, West Germany (AP) _ An explosion apparently caused by a gas leak sent fire racing through a restaurant in downtown Frankfurt and killed 11 people, including four Americans, police said today.
Investigators ruled out a bomb or arson attack in Wednesday night’s explosion at Koryo, a Chinese-Korean restaurant near Frankfurt’s Zeil shopping district. Five people were seriously injured, police said.
Police refused to release the victims’ identities until their relatives had been notified.
The dead included an American couple, both age 33, said police spokesman Manfred Fuellhardt. Another police official, Franz Winkler, said two children, including the couple’s 18-month-old son, also died. The other child was a girl of about 12 or 13, he said.
Two of the couple’s other children, a 4-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl, suffered serious injuries, Winkler said.
At least three of the dead were connected with the U.S. forces stationed in West Germany, said U.S. Army spokeswoman Brigitte Schmitz.
Experts today searched the gutted restaurant scene to determine the exact cause of the blast and fire and said they suspected faulty propane gas line connections were to blame.
″Until the investigation is completed we do not want to be nailed down on the exact cause,″ said Frankfurt police spokesman Karl Heinz Wagner.
Fire brigade chief Guenter Burbaum told reporters late Wednesday that the blaze broke out about 8:40 p.m. after an explosion.
Wilhelm Sehrt, who lives directly across the street from the restaurant and reported the fire to police, said: ″I heard a loud noise and I looked out of my window. All I saw was black smoke and a woman hanging from the window who appeared to be dead.″
″I also saw a girl, about seven or eight years old, lying on the street, bleeding. I don’t know what happened to her,″ he said. ″I also heard people screaming, ’Fire 3/8 Fire 3/8‴
Police said some of the injuries occurred when people jumped from the windows of the second-story restaurant.
The fire was extinguished less than an hour after it broke out. No other buildings in the area were damaged.
In addition to the Americans, the dead included three German women, a French woman, a Korean man, a British man, and a person believed to be a restaurant employee.