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 Sunday.
Schaefer, 54, was found dead near a railway track onSaturday. The Wiesbaden prosecution's office said they believe he died bysuicide.
"We are in shock, we are in disbelief and above all weare immensely sad," Bouffier said in a recorded statement.
Hesse is home to Germany's financial capital Frankfurt,where major lenders like Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank have their headquarters.The European Central Bank is also located in Frankfurt.
A visibly shaken Bouffier recalled that Schaefer, whowas Hesse's finance chief for 10 years,had been working "day and night" to help companies and workers dealwith the economic impact of the pandemic.
"Today we have to assume that he was deeplyworried," said Bouffier, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel."It's precisely during this difficult time that we would have neededsomeone like him," he added.Popular and well-respected, Schaefer had longbeen touted as a possible successor to Bouffier. Like Bouffier, Schaeferbelonged to Merkel's centre-right CDU party. He leaves behind a wife and twochildren.