Three people, including a child, were killed and about 30 injured after a fire broke out Tuesday in a four-storey apartment building in the western German city of Duisburg.
Police said the fire broke out at about 0330 GMT in the basement of the building and spread to the fourth floor before the fire brigade could contain it.
Witnesses said they saw a woman screaming from one of the upper floors. Police prevented her from jumping out of the window and she was rescued with a ladder.
Ralf Jaeger, the interior minister for the state of North-Rhine Westphalia, where Duisburg is located, travelled to the site and was briefed by rescue workers.
Jaeger told journalists that the fire had broken out inside an apartment and spread to the top floor.
Many of the victims were asleep and were caught unawares, he added.