Police suspect an attempted poisoning after seven people fell ill after consuming food and drink from kitchens at the Darmstadt Technical University in Germany.
The university’s Institute of Materials Science had several students and employees who complained of nausea and saw their arms and legs turning blue after using the kitchen and a drink machine on Monday afternoon, according to the Hesse state police.
Six people were treated in Darmstadt, near Frankfurt, while a 30-year-old student was temporarily in a life-threatening condition but was stabilized by doctors on Monday night.
Darmstadt police and prosecutors announced on Tuesday that they had formed a homicide squad with 40 detectives, called Licht (“light”).
“Investigations are proceeding rapidly, and police are doing everything they can to identify the culprit,” the police said.
Three separate small kitchens on the university’s Lichtwiese campus appear to have been contaminated with contaminated milk and water bottles over the weekend.
The Bild newspaper reported on Tuesday that the poison could not have been left behind by accident, citing an anonymous investigator.
It was recommended that students consume only food or drinks they had “carried themselves or stored under supervision”. Those who drank from bottles purchased on campus and were feeling unwell were advised to immediately contact a doctor.
Detecting the contamination was easy due to the acrid smell emitted by the suspected poison. In the midst of the search for the suspect, investigators identified the substance after analyzing samples in police labs overnight, but could not name it.
Robert Hartmann, a public prosecutor, said at a press conference on Tuesday that a substance has been identified that can be harmful to health and even deadly.
“We are shocked by the apparent crime committed at our university,” said Tanja Brühl, university president, on Tuesday morning.
Darmstadt’s science minister, Angela Dorn-Rancke, said she wished the victims a speedy recovery and assured them of her full support.
We need to clarify the situation as soon as possible with the university and investigators.”