BAD REICHENHALL, Germany – About 1,000 people, among them relatives and rescue workers, packed into a memorial service Tuesday for the 15 people killed when a skating rink's roof collapsed in southern Germany last week.
Twelve children were among the victims — all of them local residents — when the 30-year-old building in the Alpine spa of Bad Reichenhall collapsed Jan. 2. Rescue teams worked for nearly three days in hopes of finding survivors in the wreckage.
Roman Catholic and Protestant clergy joined rescue workers to light a candle for each of the 15 victims as their names and ages were read out while a bell tolled.
The ecumenical service at the town's St. Zeno Basilica also featured prayers for the relatives of the victims and for the 34 people who were injured.
"This tragic accident has left deep wounds," said Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, the Catholic archbishop of Munich.
"Your hearts are bleeding at the moment because a dear person has been ripped out of your lives — may it comfort you that so many people are sharing in your suffering," Wetter said.
"We weep with those who, until the last, hoped in vain for a miracle," said Protestant bishop Susanne Breit-Kessler.
Bavarian Governor Edmund Stoiber and German Economy Minister Michael Glos, a fellow Bavarian, were among those in the congregation.
The rink's snow-covered roof collapsed suddenly late in the afternoon of a school holiday, crushing and burying the mostly young skaters beneath splintered beams and twisted metal.
The cause of the collapse has yet to be established. Prosecutors are investigating.