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Police Blame Arson for Restaurant Fire That Killed 11

March 8, 1990

FRANKFURT, West Germany (AP) _ Arson was the likely cause of a fire that swept through a downtown restaurant and killed 11 people, including four Americans, police said Thursday.

Police first suspected that a gas leak in the kitchen may have caused the Wednesday night fire that gutted Koryo, a Chinese-Korean restaurant near Frankfurt’s cathedral and the Zeil shopping district.

″Evidence now points more to arson,″ said police spokesman Manfred Fuellhardt after investigators searched the gutted restaurant.

He said the fire broke out in a storage room, under the wooden stairs leading to the restaurant on the second floor of the five-story building.

Smoke quickly filled the restaurant and some guests were injured when they jumped from windows to escape the flames, Fuellhardt said. He said the fire exit apparently was blocked.

Fuellhardt said the victims suffocated. Seven people were injured, five of them seriously, police said.

The dead included an American couple, both age 33, Fuellhardt said.

Another police official, Franz Winkler, said two children, including the couple’s 1 1/2 -year-old son, also died. The other child was an American girl of about 12 or 13, he said.

Winkler said it was still not clear if the girl was the child of the couple, a relative or a friend out with them for the evening.

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 U.S. forces stationed in West Germany, said U.S. Army spokeswoman Brigitte Schmitz. She declined to release their identities until relatives could be told.

In addition to the Americans, the dead included three German women, a French woman and her British husband, a Korean man, and a person believed to be a restaurant employee.

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