Thomas Schaefer, the finance minister of Germany’s Hesse state, has committed suicide apparently after becoming “deeply worried” over how to cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus, state premier Volker Bouffier said on Sunday.
The body of Thomas, a 54-year-old member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, was found Saturday on railway tracks at Hochheim, near Frankfurt.
Police and prosecutors said factors, including the questioning of witnesses and their own observations at the scene, led them to conclude that Schaefer killed himself.
“We are in shock, we are in disbelief and above all we are immensely sad,” Volker Bouffier said in a recorded statement.
A visibly shaken Bouffier recalled that Schaefer, who was Hesse’s finance chief for 10 years, had been working “day and night” to help companies and workers deal with the economic impact of the pandemic.
“Today we have to assume that he was deeply worried,” said Bouffier, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“It’s precisely during this difficult time that we would have needed someone like him,” he added.
Thomas Schaefer left behind a wife and two children.
COVID-19 was confirmed to have been transmitted to Germany on 27 January 2020, when the first case was confirmed and contained near Munich, Bavaria. The majority of The coronavirus cases in January and early February originated from the headquarters of a car parts manufacturer there. Later, new clusters were introduced by travelers from Italy, China and Iran, from where passenger flights were stopped on 18 March.
As of Sunday afternoon March 29, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Germany has risen to 61,164 and 490 people have died of the disease, statistics from the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science showed on Sunday.