Thomas Schäfer, 54, the Hessian Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, has been found dead next to a train in his home state, German media reports. Schaefer's death has also been reported by the Hessen administration on Twitter.

A German Christian Democratic CDU minister is suspected of committing suicide. In the days before his death, Schäfer made frequent public appearances to discuss the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the state's economy.

Schäfer's death is a shock to the Hessen political scene, where he was seen as a strong candidate for successor to the state's prime minister, Volker Bouffier.