Mother suspected as five children found dead in German flat


Solingen (Germany) (AFP)

A mother was suspected of killing her five children in Germany before attempting suicide by jumping in front of a train on Thursday, police said after the bodies were found in an apartment.

The children were found in a private apartment building in the city of Solingen in North Rhine-Westphalia state, police told AFP.

They were three girls aged one, two and three, and two boys aged six and eight.

"We were informed shortly before 2 pm that five children had died and this has unfortunately been confirmed," police spokesman Stefan Weiand said.

"At the moment we believe that the 27-year-old mother appears to be responsible," he added.

The mother later threw herself under a train in Duesseldorf, some 35 kilometres away, suffering serious injuries, Weiand said.

A sixth child, an 11-year-old boy, survived unharmed and is being looked after by family.

Asked about reports that medication was involved in the children’s deaths, Weiand said: "We are investigating in that direction."

The mother is thought to have travelled to Duesseldorf on public transport with her 11-year-old son, though it is unclear whether he witnessed her suicide attempt.

"At the moment we can only assume that, we do not know for sure," Weiand said, adding that police were still trying to clarify details.

The woman was rescued from between two track beds and taken to a local hospital for treatment, Duesseldorf emergency services said on Twitter.

According to the Bild daily, the children's grandmother called the police and reported that her daughter had killed five of her children and was possibly on the run with another child with the intention of killing herself.

Several police officers could be seen around the apartment building in the early evening, along with ambulances and police vehicles in a cordoned-off area.

"The family tragedy in Solingen fills me with great sadness and at the moment my thoughts and prayers are with the five small children who lives were snatched from them so terribly early," Herbert Reul, interior minister for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, told news agency DPA.

Solingen is a city of some 160,000 inhabitants located an equal distance from Duesseldorf and Cologne.

Tim Kurzbach, the mayor of Solingen, wrote in a post on Facebook: "I am shocked and deeply saddened by the news that five dead children have been found in our city."

Investigations are ongoing, police said.