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German university poisoning: Police probe launched after seven people fall ill

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By Euronews  with AP
A view of the building L201 on the Lichtwiese campus of the Technical University Darmstadt, in Darmstadt, Germand, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021
A view of the building L201 on the Lichtwiese campus of the Technical University Darmstadt, in Darmstadt, Germand, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021   -   Copyright  Frank Rumpenhorst/DPA   -  

Prosecutors in Germany have opened a probe into suspicions of attempted murder after seven people were victims of an apparent poisoning.

Those affected fell ill on Monday and were employees or students of the Technical University in Darmstadt, south of Frankfurt.

Police say milk cartons and water containers in one of the buildings on the campus appear to have been contaminated with a harmful substance between Friday and Monday. The contaminated liquid was said to have a powerful smell.

Police and prosecutors said Tuesday that they had searched other university buildings as a precaution but found nothing else linked to the suspected poisoning. They also said no one else had come forward with symptoms.

Authorities said in a statement that they are doing everything to "identify the culprit or culprits" and that, as far as they are aware, there is no longer any "acute danger."

Prosecutor Robert Hartmann told reporters that, while authorities believe the contamination may have been deliberate, they currently have no information pointing to any specific person as a possible culprit.

Hartmann said that the substance has been identified, but prosecutors won't publicly name it for now in view of the ongoing investigation.

One person was affected “relatively severely” by the poisoning, but their life apparently is no longer in danger, Hartmann said.

Victims had complained of feeling unwell and discovered that their arms and legs had turned a bluish colour.

“We are shocked by the apparent crime that took place at our university,” the university's president, Tanja Bruehl, said in a statement.

In a statement on Twitter, the university reported that all the victims of the suspected poisoning were "feeling better".

"The last two affected TU members can also leave the hospital," they added on Tuesday, "great relief!".