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Stuttgart - An 18-year-old woman suffered serious burns when someone at a carnival celebration in the south-western German town of Eppingen threw her into a witches' cauldron at the weekend.

The woman landed up to her knees in hot water during the incident on Saturday. Her legs were badly scalded and she was taken to a specialist clinic for treatment, a police spokesman told dpa on Monday.

Police said they were investigating six people for causing serious bodily harm and failure to assist a person in danger. They do not yet know who threw her into the cauldron.

The cauldron full of scalding hot water was bubbling away over an open fire on a cart that was being pulled by several people. They did not stop to help her after the incident, the police spokesman said.

Police said they would also look into whether the open fire should have been permitted in the first place.

Some 2 000 revellers had dressed as witches for an annual "witches' procession" organized by a local club as part of the regional Fasnet carnival tradition.

Dating back to the 13th century, Fasnet focuses on witches and devils in elaborate costumes, often with ghoulish, hand-carved wooden masks.

Eppingen's witches' club, Hexenzunft Eppingen, has been organizing its own annual processions since 2003.

"This sort of thing just should not happen," Eppingen mayor Klaus Holaschke told the newspaper. The municipal authorities would start their own investigation on Monday, he added.