After the explosion in a high-rise building in Ratingen on Thursday with several seriously injured firefighters and police forces, many questions remain unanswered. Investigators are investigating how the detonation could have occurred in an apartment – and whether the emergency services may have been lured into an ambush by the 57-year-old resident.

The Düsseldorf public prosecutor's office is investigating whether it is attempted manslaughter or attempted murder. In addition, it is necessary to clarify the identity of a woman's corpse, which was found after the arrest of the German in the apartment where he lived with his mother. Due to the condition of the body, the emergency services are sure that the person found dead died a long time ago. There was a strong smell of decay in the apartment, they reported.

Indications of corona denier environment

The background of the man, who, according to North Rhine-Westphalia's Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU), was "mentally in the Corona denier environment", is also puzzling. This was the result of initial research on social media. The police did not provide any new information on this and other open questions during the night.

The Dusseldorf police had given a drastic description of what happened on Thursday evening. Accordingly, the emergency services had been called to the Ratinger residential area with many high-rise buildings, because there were concerns about a resident whose mailbox overflowed. When police and firefighters stood in front of her apartment door on the 10th floor, it was suddenly torn open by her 57-year-old son, police spokesman Raimund Dockter reported. "There was an immediate explosion, immediate, so a fireball came towards the colleagues of the fire brigade and police."

Five firefighters critically injured

As a result, a 25-year-old policewoman and a 29-year-old policeman were critically injured. "22 others suffered minor injuries," police said later in the evening. In addition, seven firefighters were seriously injured, three of them life-threatening.

How the explosion was triggered in concrete terms has yet to be determined, Dockter said. After that, the suspect also set a fire, which made it difficult to enter the apartment and investigate the situation. It was possible that the man wanted to lure the emergency services into a trap, but could not be confirmed at the moment.

Dozens of ambulances, emergency doctors, fire engines and police vehicles were involved in the large-scale operation. Special forces secured the entire high-rise building, and snipers positioned themselves on the balconies of the apartments opposite. Special forces finally stormed the apartment and arrested the 57-year-old.

Whether the man still resisted, the police and the Ministry of the Interior did not initially give any information. Wrapped in a rescue blanket and wearing a breathing mask, he was finally taken out of the house and to an ambulance with "serious injuries", according to police. Whether he had been injured by the explosion or during the arrest remained open.

Fireball catches emergency services

Ratingen's mayor, Klaus Pesch, expressed his horror. "Those who stood in front of the fire – that's ten to twelve people with massive burns – and who hopefully survive this, will certainly carry it with them for the rest of their lives," he told the German Press Agency. Some victims had severe burns of up to 80 percent of the skin area. "There's really hope and fear."

In Ratingen in the district of Mettmann, many emergency services are known to each other. "The effect is corresponding," Pesch said. "It's as if a big volcanic eruption had descended on an entire family." Psychologists and emergency chaplains are available for the emergency services.

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) was in thoughts with the injured. "This is really something unimaginably terrible for those who work day after day for other people and for their safety."

North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) was also dismayed: "The news from #Ratingen shocking. My thoughts are with the emergency services who courageously risked their lives and are now fighting for it," the head of government wrote on Twitter on Thursday evening. The authorities are doing everything they can to clarify the circumstances of the incident, it said. "We have our full support for those affected."