Belgium: Six dead as car hits carnival crowd | News | DW | 20.03.2022

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Belgium: Six dead as car hits carnival crowd

The vehicle drove into a crowd of people waiting to attend carnival in the town of Strépy-Bracquegnies, killing six people.

Belgien, Strépy-Bracquegnies | Auto fährt in Menschengruppe

Strépy-Bracquegnies' emergency plan was triggered by the town's mayor

Authorities in Belgium said six people had died after a car plowed into a crowd waiting to attend a carnival in the town of Strépy-Bracquegnies on Sunday.

"A car drove from the back at high speed. And we have a few dozen injured and unfortunately several people who are killed,'' Jacques Gobert, mayor of the neighboring town La Louviere said. 

Prosecutor Damien Verheyen said 26 people were injured, 10 were in critical condition.

The incident took place early morning around 5 am local time (3:00 UTC) during a traditional carnival ceremony.

No 'terrorist motive' suspected

Local news outlet Bel RTL quoted Gobert as saying that around 150 people had gathered to get ready for the annual folklore parade, involving costumes and drums.

"At this stage, there are no elements to suggest that the attack had a terrorist motive," Verheyen added. 

Police denied earlier media reports indicating the car was involved in a high-speed chase.

The driver and another man who was in the car were arrested. They are from the area and were not previously known to the police.

Several people were killed and more than two dozen injured when a car drove into a crowd gathers in Strépy-Bracquegnies in Belgium

The cordoned-off scene in Strépy-Bracquegnies after car drove into crowd gathered for a carnival

 

From 'music and smiles' to 'screaming'

First responders rushed to the scene and the town has triggered its emergency plan. 

Many of those injured have been taken to a hospital in La Louviere, which is now in the pre-alert phase, local broadcaster Bel RTL reported.

Doctors have been called in and at least four people were being treated in the intensive care unit (ICU), it added.

Bel RTL reporter Fabrice Collignon was among those who witnessed the event.

"We heard an immense noise...and the car literally went into the group of people," he said.

"It's a scene I never thought I'd see in my life," Collignon said, adding that "there was music and smiles and three seconds later, there were people screaming."

Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden expressed her condolences to the families of those killed and injured.

"What was supposed to have been a great party turned into a tragedy. We are monitoring the situation closely," she said in a tweet.

adi, lo/jcg (AFP, AP, dpa, EFE, Reuters)