June 7, 2016 – A large fire has broken out at a convention centre in the western German city of Duesseldorf.
The centre acts as an accommodation hub for refugees waiting to be sent elsewhere in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Germany has seen over 40 arson attacks this year alone on refugee shelters.
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In 2015, Germany took in some 1.1 million people seeking asylum, many of them fleeing conflict, poverty or persecution in the Middle East and Africa.
As the fire raged, a thick, black plume of smoke could be seen across Duesseldorf.
The smoke drifted close to the flight path from Duesseldorf airport.
The fire department advised those in the north of the city to keep windows and doors shut, reported RP Online (in German). Some 70 firefighters were at the scene.
Some 130 men who were in the building as the fire broke out have been rescued, a fire department spokesman said.
Around 28 refugees were treated for smoke inhalation, and authorities cautioned locals nearby to keep their windows and doors shut.
Later on Tuesday, Düsseldorf police and the prosecutor’s office announced they were investigating six of the hall’s residents on suspicion of arson. The men were brought to police headquarters for questioning.
By the time fire engines arrived on the scene, the entire 5,000 square-meter (53,820 square-foot) building was completely engulfed in flames. The cause of the fire remains unknown.
According to city officials, a total of 282 male refugees from Syria, Iraq, Nigeria and Afghanistan were being housed in the former trade show hall, but emergency crews said all who were on site were successfully evacuated from the burning building.
Credit BBC,AFP, dpa, Reuters, epd