Detectives investigating the horrific deaths of two men slowly cooked to death in a massive oven say that the pair had tried to rip the insulation off the wall of the oven and clawed at the door in a desperate bid to get free.
The tragedy happened when the automatic door of the oven at the factory owned by the Salzburger Aluminium AG company in Lenz closed, and the giant oven which reaches a temperature of 800 degrees centigrade was switched on.
Police spokeswoman Daniela Gstöttner said that the two men – a 56-year-old who had worked at the factory for several years and a 49-year-old man who had been sent there by temp agency – would have realised what had happened when the hot air started to flood into the chamber.
She said: “Because of the intense heat at some point the men’s clothes caught fire – and from there their bodies were burned. At the moment we are trying to work out how the door was closed and how it ended up being switched on. It could have been done manually or by remote control.”
She said there was no indication that what had happened had been done deliberately.
Technical experts are currently looking at the remote control, an autopsy has also been ordered although there was little left of the men’s bodies for a proper investigation.
Police are waiting until psychologists have finished counselling colleagues of the two men before beginning questioning tomorrow (Monday).
Staff had noticed that the two men were missing around midday and started looking for them – and an hour later it was noticed that the door to the massive pre-heating furnace which eventually reaches a temperature of up to 450 degrees centigrade had been closed and somehow switched on.
The furnace is used to start the process of heating up material for smelting.
The pair had been cleaning the furnace that morning. When staff opened the door the charred and blackened bodies of the two men were found lying on the floor inside.