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Memorial service held for firefighters

Firefighters from across the country attended the service Keystone

A memorial service has been held on Saturday for the seven firefighters killed one week ago in the deadliest accident of its kind in Swiss history.

President Joseph Deiss and more than 1,000 firefighters from Switzerland and neighbouring countries attended the church service in the northwestern town of Schönenwerd.

The volunteer firefighters died when the concrete roof of the underground car park collapsed on top of them while they were battling a car fire that spread out of control.

The memorial service took place in the Roman Catholic church in Schönenwerd, the town neighbouring the village of Gretzenbach – the scene of the fire.

The service was also carried live on television screens in two other churches in the area and at a disused factory in order to accommodate the crowds of mourners.

Flags at fire departments across the country were flown at half mast.


The head of the Solothurn cantonal government, Ruth Gisi, praised the victims as idealists.

“We will remember them as shining examples,” Gisi said, thanking the deceased for their service to the public.

Town councillors said the people of the two communities were in a state of shock.

Deiss expressed his sympathy for the families of the victims.

The authorities are investigating the cause of the blaze and why the roof unexpectedly collapsed.

swissinfo with agencies

The seven firefighters died when the roof of an underground car park collapsed.
The cause of the fire, or why the roof caved in, is not yet known.
It was the largest number of firefighters killed in a single accident in Swiss history.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR