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Disasters

Memorial service commemorates victims of workshop fire

Mourners have been paying their respects at a memorial ceremony in southern Germany to commemorate 14 people killed in a fire at a factory for disabled workers. The blaze was caused by a gas leak.

Survivors, grieving relatives and town residents were joined by German President Joachim Gauck for the memorial service Saturday in the south-western town of Titisee-Neustadt.

Also in attendance at the St. Jakobus Cathedral were Baden-Württemberg State Premier Winfried Kretschman, State Interior Minister Reinhold Gall and Federal Education Minister Annette Schavan.

On Monday, a gas leak from a heating unit sparked a blaze at a workshop that killed 14 people and injured nine others. The building was not equipped with sprinklers. The workshop, which employed around 120 mentally or physically disabled people, was run by the Catholic charity Caritas.

"We are all in shock," said local priest Johannes Herrmann. "The pain and grief unites us."

Freiburg Archbishop Robert Zollitsch said that the service was an expression of solidarity and sympathy for the victims.

"We cannot really grasp what was really going on in the Caritas workshop," said Zollitsch in his sermon. "We cannot really understand what happened."

Bells tolled as one of the rescue workers read the names of the victims. Others lit candles and placed them before the altar.

At 11 a.m. local time, the bells of all Protestant and Catholic churches in the region rang for ten minutes.

dr/rc (epd, KNA, dapd, dpa, AFP)