German economy minister falls leaving stage at IT event

Germany's economy minister has fallen as he left the stage during an event at which he was due to present a European digital cloud project

BERLIN -- Germany's economy minister fell badly as he left the stage Tuesday during an event at which he was due to present a European digital cloud project and was taken to a hospital.

Peter Altmaier tripped on the steps and appeared to fall head-first as he left the stage after making the opening speech at the event in Dortmund. He lay on the ground and was quickly surrounded by helpers.

Altmaier's ministry said in a statement that he was taken to a hospital, where he was under observation and undergoing checks. It said that "he is doing well considering the circumstances" and thanked doctors for taking care of him. Another official took over the cloud presentation.

News agency dpa reported, without naming sources, that Altmaier briefly lost consciousness but regained it at the scene, and had a cut on his head. It also reported, citing an unidentified government source, that an examination showed he had a broken nose.

Altmaier himself later wrote on Twitter: "Other than bruises and abrasions, apparently nothing serious."

Altmaier, 61, has been Germany's economy minister since March last year. He was previously Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff and her environment minister.

A member of her center-right Christian Democratic Union, he has long been a close ally of the German leader.

"We are optimistic that he will soon be completely back on board," Merkel said as she appeared at the same event several hours later.