German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been injured in a fall while cross-country skiing in Switzerland forcing her to stay off her feet and cancel meetings.
Taking reporters by surprise, spokesman Steffen Seibert said that Merkel, 59, had cancelled two meetings with international leaders this week and also cut back her schedule for the next three weeks while she recovers.
The chancellor suffered a fractured pelvis which “makes it necessary for her to lie down a lot for three weeks and/or use a walking aid”, Seibert said.
Merkel will lead Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, the first of 2014 for her new “grand coalition” government, he said.
But she has had to cancel a planned trip to Warsaw on Wednesday as well as a visit to Berlin by Luxembourg’s new prime minister which had been scheduled for Thursday, Seibert said, adding that new dates would be found for the talks.
News of the Merkel’s fall comes as her compatriot Formula One legend Michael Schumacher remains in a critical condition in a French hospital after a very serious skiing accident in the French Alps on December 29.
The chancellor was cross-country skiing in the southeastern Swiss region of Engadin, which boasts top ski resorts such as St Moritz, over the Christmas holidays when she had her accident.
After she fell, the injury was initially thought to be just painful bruising, but after her return to Berlin, doctors on Friday diagnosed a fracture in the pelvic area, Seibert said.
“She is now following the doctors’ advice in order to enable optimal healing,” he said.
Seibert did not give details about the incident, saying only that Merkel had fallen while cross-country skiing during her holiday, which ended December 30, and adding that he could not say whether others were involved.
However he said it was assumed Merkel was moving at a “low speed”.