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Six dead, 10 seriously injured after car drives into Carnival crowd early Sunday morning
A speeding car hit a crowd of Carnival revellers in the Hainaut town of La Louvière at 5.00 on Sunday morning, leaving at least six people dead, 10 seriously injured and 27 with minor injuries.
The large group was gathered at dawn near the sports hall in Strépy-Bracquegnies for the traditional ‘pickup’ of the Gilles, the local folklore brotherhood, ahead of Sunday's festivities. It was the first Carnival celebration to take place in the region since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
La Louvière mayor Jacques Gobert told RTL Info that a car travelling at high speed drove into the back of the crowd of more than 100 people.
“There are no words, it's horror. Having arrived on the spot sometime after the disaster, seeing these bodies scattered on the road, the people who are in pain... It’s dramatic.”
A municipal emergency plan was triggered, the sports hall made available to families and the victim assistance service activated, added Gobert who was in Gilles costume ready to participate in the ceremony when the accident happened.
Gobert called for the carnival not to go ahead. The traditional ‘rondeau’, a circle of different Gilles associations, was conducted with a minute of silence in homage to the victims.
According to local police the vehicle was the only cause of the accident and the two occupants had been deprived of their liberty. From La Louvière, born in 1988 et 1990, they were not know to police. A murder investigation has opened.
According to the prosecutor, it was not thought to be a terrorist attack at this stage.
King Philippe, prime minister Alexander De Croo and interior minister Annelies Verlinden are due to visit Strépy-Bracquegnies at 16.00 on Sunday.
Verlinden said on Twitter: “My sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who died and were injured in the incident that occurred this morning in Strépy. What was supposed to be a fun party turned tragic. We are monitoring the situation closely.”
Photo: © Belga-Nicolas Maeterlinck
This article was updated following a press conference in Strépy at 11.00