At least 30 wounded as car ploughs into carnival parade in western town of Volkmarsen, police say, adding driver has been arrested.

People react at the scene after a car ploughed into a carnival parade injuring several people in Volkmarsen, Germany February 24, 2020.
People react at the scene after a car ploughed into a carnival parade injuring several people in Volkmarsen, Germany February 24, 2020. (Reuters)

A man intentionally drove a car into a crowd of people at a Carnival parade in a small town in central Germany, wounding at least 30 people including children, police said on Monday.

The driver was arrested, but police couldn't immediately provide details about the man's motivations for crashing into the celebrations in Volkmarsen, about 280 kilometers southwest of Berlin. 

"We are working on the assumption that it was a deliberate act," police spokesman Henning Hinn said but added that further details of the driver's motives weren't yet known.

Hinn said that "there were several dozen injured, among them some seriously and sadly also children."

Some of the injuries were life-threatening, he said.

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, according to the paper. 

Video from the scene showed a silver Mercedes station wagon with local license 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.

The crash came amid the height of Germany's celebration of Carnival, with the biggest parades in Cologne, Duesseldorf, and Mainz.

Volkmarsen, which has a population of 7,000, is east of Duesseldorf, near Kassel.

Police in Western Hesse state tweeted that all other Carnival parades in the state on Monday were ended after the crash as a precaution.

Police shut down the area to allow emergency crews to deal with the crash. Police said they couldn't immediately provide further details and urged people not to spread "unconfirmed reports."

German news website HNA cited witnesses as saying that the driver appeared to have deliberately targeted children and that he had driven into the crowd "at full throttle."

Frankfurter Rundschau reported that witnesses said the driver drove around a barrier blocking off traffic from the parade, but that it wasn't yet clear whether he intentionally headed toward the crowd. 

Rose Monday celebrations

In many parts of Germany, residents are celebrating Rose Monday, a highlight of the annual carnival festivities that sees adults and children dress up and attend parades where people play music and throw candies from floats.

The incident comes as Germany is still reeling from twin terrorist attacks in the city of Hanau, in the same German state of Hesse, that left 10 people dead last Wednesday.

The gunman, who left behind a racist manifesto, first opened fire at a shisha bar and a cafe, killing nine people, before shooting dead his mother and himself.

Germany's deadliest terror attack in recent history happened in 2016 when a militant drove his truck into a crowded Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 people.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies