Corpses discovered in university cellar

Hundreds of corpses have been discovered rotting in an abandoned room of a university in Germany.

Students and staff are in shock after the grim discovery in the cellars of the anatomy department at the University of Cologne which follows a tragedy last month involving the department's head professor, who was found dead after allegedly stabbing himself.

Reported firstly in the Spiegel Online, university staff are said to have found the room of adult corpses that are believed to have been originally donated for medical purposes, but should have long been buried.

Animal cadavers and large numbers of plastic buckets labelled "noses", "newborns" and "shark head" have been collected as evidence by investigators who say the room may have been left unused for a decade.

A staff member, who declined to give his name says that "the cooling system was broken, and the room smelt accordingly bad".

He described the scene as "quite disgusting" and "reminiscent of a horror film".

The macabre discovery has been described as "completely unacceptable" by the university rector who said it "deeply shattered and shocked" the university community.

He said the animal cadavers could be traced back to a past link between the institute and Cologne zoo.

A commission is investigating further, but the public prosecutor's office has said there is no evidence of any crime.

The body of Professor Jürgen Koebke, 66, the institute's former head, was found under a bridge in Cologne last month. Police suspect he stabbed himself to death.

He is said to have been respected by staff and students alike.

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