BONN, JULY 7 -- More than 30 people were killed and at least 25 were injured when a tank truck carrying gasoline slammed into a restaurant and burst into flames this evening in the town of Herborn 50 miles north of Frankfurt, police said.
Three buildings were leveled and five more were seriously damaged as the fire triggered a series of explosions in nearby shops and houses, a police spokesman in Herborn said. The blasts came as the fire spread through gas pipes, and they may also have been fueled by gasoline seeping into the sewer system and then erupting, he said.
Rescue workers were uncertain about the total number of victims because many bodies were trapped under the buildings' smoking, charred remains, and the death toll could reach as high as 50, said a police official in the nearby city of Giessen.
"There isn't anything left" of the pizza and ice cream restaurant, he said. The driver of the truck was quoted by West German radio as saying that the brakes had overheated. Police said that the driver was slightly injured and was being treated in a hospital. He was not identified.
The truck, carrying 8,400 gallons of gasoline, crashed into the eatery after skidding around a curve in central Herborn at about 9 p.m. (3 p.m. EDT), police said.
West German television showed film of firemen shooting water onto the remains of several buildings, as a few small fires continued to burn hours after the initial crash.