Teen Injures Nearly 60 With Anti-Attack Spray on School Trip: Police

A 15-year-old girl was arrested after police said she set off an anti-attack spray in a crowded museum on a school trip, injuring nearly 60 people.

Officials say 27 museum-goers had to be taken to hospital after the spray went off in the lobby as visitors waiting at elevators.

A further 30 needed medical treatment on the spot after the building in Bremerhaven, northern Germany, was evacuated.

The teen is now under investigation for causing grievous bodily harm, according to police spokesman Jens Ammermann, but she has refused to say if the discharge was deliberate or accidental.

The Climate House in Bremerhaven, Germany
The Climate House (Klimahaus) located in the German city of Bremerhaven where police say nearly 60 people ended up injured due to an irritant gas attack. Rathke, Klimahaus Bremerhaven/Zenger

She can also expect a hefty bill for the cleanup operation and commercial losses at the Klimahaus - or Climate House - museum.

Local authorities did not reveal her name because of Germany's strict privacy laws.

Around 500 people were in the museum at the time.

A spokesman for the Klimahaus said it had registered several school classes and groups of tourists from all over Germany and abroad.

A museum worker set off the fire alarm when visitors complained of burning eyes, blurred vision and breathing difficulties.

The Klimahaus remained closed for the rest of that day.

The Climate House in Bremerhaven, Germany
The Climate House (Klimahaus) located in the German city of Bremerhaven where police say nearly 60 people ended up injured due to an irritant gas attack. Meyer, Klimahaus Bremerhaven/Zenger

Bremerhaven administration official Volker Heigenmoser said that, if found guilty, the teenager would be ordered to pay the costs of the museum and the city's emergency service response.

The Bremerhaven police said in a statement that during "a large-scale operation by the fire brigade, rescue service and police in the Bremerhaven Klimahaus, a 15-year-old schoolgirl was identified as the suspected culprit."

The police added: "After the evacuation and rescue measures were completed, police officers were able to enter the climate house and search for clues as to the cause of the gas leak. They secured various tracks, interviewed witnesses and thus obtained information that led to the suspected youth."

They also said: "According to previous knowledge, the 15-year-old had sprayed an animal repellent spray in the elevator area of the climate house for reasons that are still unknown, which led to the large-scale operation.

The Climate House in Bremerhaven, Germany
The Klimahaus (Climate House) has been praised for its innovative approach to topics such as pollution of the environment and the effects of climate change on the lives of people on all continents. The museum is located in the German city of Bremerhaven. Pfeifenberger, Klimahaus Bremerhaven/Zenger

"A preliminary investigation into dangerous bodily harm was initiated against the suspected youth, who had made a trip to Bremerhaven with a school class. The Bremen police and public prosecutor's office, Bremerhaven branch, are continuing to investigate the case."

The Klimahaus has been praised for its innovative approach to topics such as pollution of the environment and the effects of climate change on the lives of people on all continents.

Located in the port district of Bremerhaven, a city of 113,000 residents near Bremen, northern Germany, the museum registers between 400,000 and 600,000 visitors each year.

Its 11,500-square-meter showrooms have been attended by Kenyan-British activist Auma Obama, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the years.

Irish musician and activist Bob Geldof held the main speech at its opening ceremony in June 2009.

The Klimahaus in Bremerhaven, Germany
The Klimahaus (Climate House) has been praised for its innovative approach to topics such as pollution of the environment and the effects of climate change on the lives of people on all continents. The museum is located in the German city of Bremerhaven. Muller, Klimahaus Bremerhaven/Zenger

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.