GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, West Germany — An explosion Saturday at an Alpine ski resort hotel favored by U.S. servicemen and their families killed at least seven people and injured more than 16, police said.
Police spokesman Max Koegl said a faulty natural gas pipeline in the Riessersee Hotel in this Bavarian town exploded at 4:07 p.m. and ignited a blaze that firefighters brought under control after nightfall.
Another police spokesman, Georg Wolf, said the northern wing of the hotel housing its recreation center was "literally blown into the air."
"There is absolute devastation," one witness said.
The casualties were not immediately identified by name or nationality.
The Riessersee was fully booked with more than 300 guests, mostly people on Christmas ski vacations, West German television reported Saturday night.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen was the site of the 1936 Winter Olympics.
The Riessersee Hotel, which opened just seven months ago, is one of the biggest in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Koegl told the Associated Press in a telephone interview that rescue workers had found the bodies of six guests in the rubble of the luxury hotel's recreation wing by 10 p.m.
Scores of rescue workers continued to search the rubble into the night.
Wolf said 16 seriously injured hotel guests were admitted to local hospitals.
No Definite Count
"In addition, many people with moderate and light injuries have been taken to hospitals," he said, but officials had no definite count by late Saturday night.
The blast devastated the Riessersee's pool area and fitness center and caused serious damage to other sections of the hotel, Koegl said.
He said earlier reports that other parts of the complex escaped the explosion largely unscathed were incorrect.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is one of West Germany's best known ski and recreation resorts. The town of 27,500 people is 59 miles southwest of Munich and close to the 9,777-foot Zugspitze, the nation's highest mountain.
It has a large U.S. military skiing and recreation facility, and American soldiers and their families often stay at the Riessersee.
American occupation forces used the hotel as a regional headquarters shortly after World War II.