BONN — A bomb exploded in a crowded departure lounge at Frankfurt's international airport Wednesday, killing three people and injuring as many as 40, West German police reported.
Police investigators in Frankfurt said there were no claims of responsibility or solid clues as to who could have planted the bomb.
The explosives were placed in a wastepaper basket in the international departure lounge close to the desk of Italy's Alitalia airlines. The ticket counters of several other foreign airlines also are nearby, making it difficult to determine a precise target, police said.
The blast tore a hole three feet deep in the concrete floor and devastated many airline counters. Two of those killed were children, the other an adult male. All were passengers but they could not be identified immediately because the bodies were so badly mutilated.
Hans-Joachim Borst, a member of the airport's management committee, said four of the wounded, including a child, were in serious condition. They are believed to be Iranian.
The explosion took place in the middle of the afternoon beyond the security zone where baggage is inspected. There was no warning to allow for the evacuation of passengers, the police officials added.
It was the worst attack ever at the vast airport, which serves as an important connecting center for international flights from all of Europe. Although security is relatively tight, previous terrorist incidents have taken place there, but they never resulted in deaths.
The bomb blast, which occurred as the noontime air traffic "rush hour" was easing, left a wide area littered with ripped baggage, broken glass and small fires. A full-size replica of a Red Cross plane suspended from the ceiling as part of an exhibition caught fire.
Frankfurt police executive Karl-Heinz Gemmer said at a press conference that "the explosives must have weighed several kilos." He said he based his estimate on the extent of damage, not on analysis of the bomb fragments.
Shortly after the Frankfurt explosion, a travel agency at the Munich train station received a telephone call warning that a bomb would soon explode in the local airport. No blast occurred, and the threat was believed to be a hoax by someone who had heard about the Frankfurt bomb.