Toddler Survives Drop From Apartment Blaze

A toddler is seen plummeting toward the ground after his father let him drop from the window of an apartment building in Ludwigshafen, Germany, Feb. 4, 2008, as a fire engulfed the entire building. The young boy was caught safely by an off-duty police officer 40 feet below.
A German photographer caught the heart-stopping moment when a father decided there was no other way to save his 2-year-old girl from a blazing apartment fire than to drop her out of fourth-story window.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports flames were sweeping through a crowded apartment block in the western German town of Ludwigshafen, sending stranded people to windows to gasp for air.

The building served as a refugee hostel for Turkish families, many of whom became trapped on the upper floors.

Tenants located on the lower floors of the building handed their children to German firefighters on ladders.

But the parents in the photograph were too high up, and made the harrowing decision to drop the young girl to the crowd below. She was caught safely by an off-duty police officer who just happened to be in the neighborhood.

Not everyone was so lucky; nine people - including five children - died in the blaze.

It's not known whether the baby's parents survived.

Police found eight bodies in the building and one woman died in a hospital after the fire Sunday, police spokeswoman Simone Eisenbarth said. Twenty-two people remained hospitalized Monday.

"Unfortunately, we cannot exclude further victims," Eisenbarth said. Investigators were not immediately able to enter parts of the smoldering building because the structure, much of it made of wood, was in danger of collapsing.

The cause of the fire, which started Sunday afternoon, was not clear and the victims had not yet been identified, Eisenbarth said.

Police said 24 people - all of them Turkish citizens - were registered as living in the four-story building, but that more people had been in the house, celebrating a Catholic festival.

Police said the old wooden staircase of the building collapsed shortly after the fire broke out.