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Frankfurt Airport Ripped by Bomb; 3 Killed, 32 Hurt : Explosive Put in Trash Can by Ticket Counters

June 19, 1985|From Times Wire Services

FRANKFURT, West Germany — A bomb exploded in a busy passenger terminal at Frankfurt International Airport today, killing two children and one adult, and wounding 32 people, four of them seriously, police said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which came five days after Shia Muslim guerrillas hijacked a TWA jet over Europe.

Police said all three killed here were passengers, but their identities might not be known for some time because the bodies were badly mutilated.

The bomb, weighing about 10 pounds, was planted in a trash can in the international departure lounge close to the desks of a number of airlines, including Olympic Airways, the Greek national carrier, Iran Air and Italy's Alitalia.

Floor Gutted by Blast

Eyewitnesses said the blast in Departure Hall B destroyed ticket counters and ripped through a walkway to a visitors' observation terrace at the airport, the busiest in continental Europe. The blast gutted the floor.

"I saw flame, a loud bang, and then the whole place was filled with smoke," said Ralph Kugler of San Francisco. Kugler said he was about 50 yards away from the blast site but was sheltered by a booth.

"People were just running toward us, screaming and yelling," he said.

American journalist Steve Kroft, who was at the airport when the bomb went off, said: "It was an incredible explosion.

"There was a lot of blood and the smell of cordite hanging over the area. I saw a little baby that looked dead."

'I Saw a Fireball'

Wolfgang Schwalm, an airport spokesman, said, "At 2:45 (p.m.), I was just telephoning my office opposite to the departure hall and I saw a fireball and I saw the terrible noise and all the windows on the back side of the departure hall crashed down."

Schwalm said the explosion took place during a relative lull.

"It's just the time between two peak terms, so it's not as crowded as it is till 2 o'clock. So I think maybe, I hope, that this will be an advantage."

Ambulances and a mobile emergency medical center were rushed to the terminal. A U.S. military police vehicle also was seen speeding to the scene.

Police searched the devastated terminal after the blast and found a second bomb not far from where the first went off. Bomb disposal experts defused it, authorities said.

According to the International Civil Aviation Assn., Frankfurt is the world's third busiest airport in terms of international passengers, with 12.3 million international passengers in 1983.

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