At least four people have been killed after a car crashed into a crowd at high speed at a carnival in Belgium.
More than 20 others were seriously injured in the 5am blast in Strépy-Bracquegnies, near La Louvière in the province of Hainault, 43 km south of the capital Brussels.
The vehicle is said to have “accelerated” into the group of performers preparing for a parade when they heard “an immense noise” behind them.
There have been four confirmed deaths, one reportedly a child.
Seven others were seriously injured and at least 15 people suffered minor injuries and are being treated by paramedics.
A nearby gymnasium has been converted into an emergency center, local media reports.
Brussels radio station Bel RTL reported: “There were about 150 of us on a long, straight street.
“We heard an immense noise behind us and a car literally drove into the group of people. It was a scene I never imagined.
“The car accelerated and when we realized something was happening, everyone was on the ground. People were screaming it was awful.”
The injured belonged to the Les Boute en Train carnival group and were on their way to the center of the nearby village of La Louvière when the tragedy struck.
La Louvière Mayor Jacques Gobert said: “There are no words for this, it’s terrible.
“I arrived shortly after the disaster. When you see these corpses strewn on the street, you can’t imagine that something like this could happen here, and yet it did.”
“We heard a tremendous noise … and the car literally drove into the group of people,” said Bel RTL reporter Fabrice Collignon, who witnessed the incident.
“A speeding car drove into the crowd … The driver then drove on, but we intercepted him,” Gobert said.
Belgian politician Annelies Verlinden tweeted: “Sincere condolences to the families and friends of those killed and injured in the incident in Strépy this morning.
“What was supposed to be a great party turned into drama. We are monitoring the situation closely.”
The driver of the car was arrested, sources said.
What was the cause of the tragedy was initially unknown.
“All we know is that a car drove into the crowd at high speed,” Gobert said.
“Was it a premeditated act or not? The investigation will show.”
Belgium has been trying to trace people suspected of militant connections for the past seven years. A Brussels-based IS cell was involved in attacks in Paris in 2015 that killed 130 people and in Brussels in 2016 that killed 32 people.
So far there is no indication that the tragedy was terror-related.
A press conference will be held at 11 a.m. local time (10 a.m. GMT).
Belgium’s King and Prime Minister both travel to Strépy-Bracquegnies at 4pm local time today.
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Sunday morning: “
Terrible news from Strépy-Bracquegnies. A community gathering to celebrate was struck to the heart.”
Elio Di Rupo, Walloon Prime Minister, added: “It is with a very heavy heart that I hear the news from Strépy-Bracquegnies this morning.
“My heartfelt thoughts go out to the deceased, affected families and those injured. This day should be a time of reunion and celebration after so many difficult months.”
This year’s carnival was the first of its kind in three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It should start on Sunday and last until Wednesday.
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/18007324/belgium-carnival-car-accelerates-strepy-bracquegnies-la-louviere/ Four dead and seven seriously injured after a car “sped into a crowd” at a carnival in Belgium