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EXPLOSION ACCIDENT – Search for cause continues

Explosives expert rules out terrorist attack

Search for cause with no end in sight: More than one week after the detonation under a public service bus, the cause still remains a mystery. Since yesterday, the investigations have again been focussed on gas as the trigger.

According to the statement of press spokesman Helmut Latermann given to the crowds of journalists and camera teams that have arrived in the meantime, the police are looking into three possible causes of the explosion on 30 December, which hurled a public service bus into the air and caused severe injuries: a dud, a terrorist attack or a gas explosion.

Since yesterday, Latermann, who has by now spent more than 35 hours at the site of the accident providing information and giving interviews, has ruled out the first two possibilities. As determined by specialists of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit with the help of 30 drillings and magnetic field probes, the explosion was not caused by a bomb. No fresh metal splinters were found in the depth underneath the explosion site.

The second alternative was ruled out yesterday by explosives experts of the State Office of Criminal Investigations (LKA). Indications of explosives or residues of a remote detonator were not found in either the bus or the crater caused by the explosion. As a precaution, soil samples were taken from various layers to examine them for explosive residues.

Since yesterday, experts of the German Motor Vehicle Inspection Association (DEKRA) have also investigated the question of whether the detonation was caused by a gas explosion. Their soil samples are to be examined chemically. Yesterday, the experts were not able to answer the question of whether there is any evidence of the accident having been caused by an explosion of a gas mixture. So far, the investigations have been carried on according to the exclusion principle: identifying what did not cause the explosion.

In addition, the experts started examining the gas pipelines with mini-cameras to determine based on the deformations how the forces acted and to identify any previously existing leaks. The sewer lines had already been examined using the same method. The police and the public prosecutors expect that it will take several weeks before the results of the soil analyses are available.

Original article by JÜRGEN GÜCKEL