A truck ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin on Monday evening, killing nine people and injuring up to 50 others, police said, in what appeared to be one of the deadliest attacks in Germany in decades.
Police said on Twitter that they had taken one suspect into custody and that another passenger from the truck had died as it crashed into people gathered around the wooden huts serving mulled wine and sausages at the foot of the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church in the heart of west Berlin.
“We heard a loud bang,” Emma Rushton, a tourist, told CNN. “We started to see the top of an articulated truck, a lorry ... just crashing through the stalls, through people.”
The incident evoked memories of an attack in Nice, France in July when a Tunisian-born man drove a 19-tonne truck along the beach front, mowing down people who had gathered to watch the fireworks on Bastille Day, killing 86 people. That attack was claimed by Islamic State.
Here are the highlights:
3.45 am: AFP also reports on the Polish origin of the vehicle. The Polish owner of the lorry that ploughed into a busy Christmas market in Berlin on Monday, confirmed that his driver was missing.
“We haven’t heard from him since this afternoon. We don’t know what happened to him. He’s my cousin, I’ve known him since I was a kid. I can vouch for him,” transport company owner Ariel Zurawski told AFP.
3.40 am: The circumstances of Monday’s deadly truck crash at a Christmas market in Berlin is still unclear, a senior German official said, dismissing as speculation reports that the lorry could have been hijacked by militants.
“The sequence of events point to either an accident or an attack,” Berlin state interior minister Andreas Geisel said.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement it was still unclear exactly what had happened. Security officials are trying to secure the site and find those responsible, he said.
3.00 am: The Guardian’s Berlin correspondent Kate Connelly reports that the truck that crashed into the Christmas market had Polish number plates and belonged to a Polish delivery company. The company said the truck left Poland this afternoon heading to Berlin and that they lost touch with the driver at 4 pm local time. It is possible that the vehicle was hijacked.
2.50 am: Police now say that “there are no indications of further dangerous situations in the city near Breitscheidplatz.”
Currently, there are no indications of further dangerous situations in the city near #Breitscheidplatz.— PolizeiBerlinEinsatz (@PolizeiBerlin_E) December 19, 2016
Berlin police are encouraging people to use a Facebook safety check to learn if loved ones are safe after a truck plowed into a crowded Christmas market. At least nine people were killed.
The tweet linked out to Facebook, which has set up checks periodically after natural disasters and attacks around the world. But police also asked people to refrain from spreading videos to protect privacy.
2.45 am: Berlin police say that the passenger of a truck that rammed a Christmas market died at the scene. They also tweeted than a suspect has been apprehended and that it is still ‘under consideration’ whether he was the driver of the truck.
“A man who was apparently driving the truck was detained,” a police spokeswoman told AFP. “The person riding in the vehicle is dead.”
2.40 am: German Chancellor Angela Merkel “mourns the dead” after at least nine people were killed Monday when a truck ploughed through a Christmas market in central Berlin, her spokesman said.
“We mourn the dead and hope that the many people injured can be helped,” her spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeted.
2.20 am: Berlin police tweet requesting the city’s residents to stay at home after the truck incident.
2.10 am: German police say they’ve arrested a suspect believed to be the driver of a truck that rammed into a crowded Christmas market in the center of Berlin, killing at least nine and causing multiple injuries.
Police spokesman Winfried Wenzel told ZDF public television that the man was arrested near the scene.
No further details were immediately available.
1.40am: Local media now report that the attacker is on the run after the truck plows into a crowded market in Berlin.
BREAKING: Attacker on the run after truck plows into Christmas market crowd in Berlin: local media https://t.co/kfk2de0XXc— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) December 19, 2016
1.15am: German media, citing police at the scene, said first indications pointed to an attack on the market, situated at the foot of the ruined Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church, which was kept as a bombed-out ruin after World War Two, reports Reuters.
“I heard a big noise and then I moved on the Christmas market and saw much chaos...many injured people,” Jan Hollitzer, deputy editor in chief of Berliner Morgenpost, told CNN. “It was really traumatic.”
1.11am: German police reports that nine people have been killed when the truck drove into the Christmas market.
Police said on Twitter that the truck rammed into the market outside the capital’s popular Christmas market at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on Monday evening.
1.09 am: One killed in the attack, police say. Reporters of local media outlets describe a ‘gruesome scene’. It is still unclear whether it was an accident or a deliberate attack.
Tuesday 12.44 am: Truck drives into a crowd at a busy Christmas market in Berlin, several injured, according to local news reports. Many witnesses post their account on Twitter.
Just witnessed a truck plow into Christmas market in Berlin. We are ok— Jeremy (@Jerr) December 19, 2016