Brussels (Times Of Ocean)- An incident at the carnival of Strepy-Bracquegnies, near the former coal-mining town of La Louviere, has left at least six dead and 26 wounded.
At high speed, a car slammed into carnival revelers in a small Belgian village, killing six people and injuring 10.
For now, authorities have ruled out a terror motive in Sunday’s incident.
“At this stage of the investigation, we know that a vehicle slammed into a group and that there are six dead and 26 injured, including 10 people whose life is in danger,” prosecutor Damien Verheyen told reporters at the town’s city hall.
Around 5am (04:00 GMT), the tragedy occurred as the carnival of Strepy-Bracquegnies, a village west of the former coal mining town of La Louviere, got underway.
Several suspects, including two born in 1988 and 1990, were arrested at the scene, Verheyen said, adding that they were not known to authorities for similar crimes.
Carnival revelers gathered at dawn in an age-old tradition, intending to pick up others at their homes along the way, to finally celebrate after it had been banned for the past two years to combat COVID19.
Jacques Gobert, the mayor of La Louviere, said, “What happened turned it into a national catastrophe.”
Most Belgian towns and villages host street carnivals during the season of Lent, with the parades in Binche and Aalst being the most famous.
During the carnival’s pre-dawn prologue, Gobert said 150 to 200 people were involved, and when they reached a road, “a car coming from behind at high speed literally pulverized a large number of people”.
TV presenter Fabrice Collingnon, a Belgian, told AFP that the procession was joyfully underway when, in a “snap of the fingers, we went from fun and folklore to absolute horror”.
The car entered the pack ‘deliberately’, he said.
On Twitter, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo deplored the “horrible news,” saying “a community gathering to celebrate has been hit in the heart.”