A man intentionally drove a car into a crowd of people watching a carnival procession in a small German town, injuring dozens of people — including children — on Monday, police said.
The driver was arrested, but police couldn’t immediately provide details about the man’s motivations for crashing into the carnival procession in Volksmarsen, about 280 kilometres southwest of Berlin.
A spokesman for Frankfurt prosecutors, Alexander Badle, said in a statement that “about 30 people” were injured, among them children. They were taken to surrounding hospitals, some with life-threatening injuries.
The suspect was also injured, said Badle.
“The investigation, especially into the circumstances of the crime, continues,” he said. “In particular, no information can yet be provided about a motive. The investigation is exploring all avenues.”
The incident came amid the height of Germany’s celebration of carnival, with the biggest parades in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Mainz.
Volkmarsen, which has a population of 7,000, is east of Düsseldorf, near Kassel.
Emergency responders set up a makeshift clinic in a town pharmacy to treat casualties with minor injuries, the regional Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper reported. Witnesses said the car drove around a barrier blocking off traffic from the parade.
Video from the scene showed a silver Mercedes station wagon with local licence plates on a sidewalk, its front windshield badly smashed and hood dented, and its hazard lights blinking, while emergency crews walked by. Forensic experts could be seen taking photos and measurements around the crashed car, walking around fragments of carnival costumes that littered the ground.
Police called off all carnival parades in the German state of Hesse, where Volkmarsen is located, as a precautionary measure, but said they were not aware of any danger elsewhere in Germany.
“This is a terrible act committed against people who simply wanted to celebrate Carnival,” said Peter Beuth, the interior minister for Hesse. He declined to comment on reports that a second person was detained following the crash.
Chancellor Angela Merkel sent her condolences to those injured in the crash, wishing them a speedy and full recovery. She also thanked the police and all medical personnel involved.
The carnival is hugely popular in parts of western Germany, especially in Rhineland cities such as Cologne and Düsseldorf, where festivities peak on “Rose Monday” with tens of thousands attending street parades featuring comical or satirical floats.
The incident comes less than a week after a man described as a far-right extremist gunned down 11 people, including himself.