Berlin: Teacher killed and several injured after vehicle drives into crowd, officials say

Rescue workers help an injured person after a car crashed into a crowd of people in central Berlin. Credit: AP

A teacher was killed and several others left injured after a car crashed into a school group standing in a popular shopping district on a busy street corner in western Berlin.

The incident happened at one end of the Kurfuerstendamm shopping boulevard, a site popular with tourists, and next to the Breitscheidplatz square where the Christmas market terror attack happened in 2016.

A man drove into people on a street corner at around 10.30 am, before getting the car back on the road and then crashing into a shop window nearby, police spokesperson Thilo Cablitz said.

The driver was apparently detained by passers-by before being arrested swiftly by a police officer who was near the scene, Mr Cablitz added.

Berlin’s top security official, Iris Spranger, said the woman killed was a teacher on a school trip with students from the central German state of Hesse.

The incident happened at one end of the Kurfuerstendamm shopping boulevard and next to the Breitscheidplatz square. Credit: AP

Police later tweeted that the driver was a 29-year-old German-Armenian who lives in Berlin, but did not provide any further details.

Six people sustained life-threatening injuries and another three were seriously injured, fire service spokesman Adrian Wentzel said.

"A man is believed to have driven into a group of people. It is not yet known whether it was an accident or a deliberate act," police said.

Emergency services at the scene after a car crashed into a crowd of people in central Berlin. Credit: AP

"We are currently on the scene with about 130 emergency personnel. The vehicle, a small car, was secured on site."

A police spokesperson said they were investigating all possibilities, adding that the driver had received some medical treatment.

In the aftermath of the incident, a small, silver coloured Renault car was seen lodged inside a shop after it smashed through a glass window.

Pictures appear to show a small silver Renault Clio after it crashed through a display window of a shop. Credit: AP

Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey said she was “deeply shocked” by the incident and that authorities were keeping an open mind about possible motives.

The actor John Barrowman, famous for his roles in Torchwood and Doctor Who, tweeted that he was nearby when the crash occurred.

He described the situation as "really pretty bad", with "a lot of people walking with limps and injuries".

He later went on to describe how he initially thought the incident may have been a car crash, but said as he and his husband Scott Gill walked up the road to exchange money at a local bank, they noticed a dead body laying further along in the street, before emergency services rushed in.

"They immediately grabbed one person, threw them onto a stretcher, others were getting resuscitated," Barrowman told ITV News during an interview.

'We realised we were in the middle of something,' Barrowman said

"We realised we were in the middle of something - we were in the middle of the cordon," he added, before recalling how a "second wave" of police came and tried to move people away from the scene.

He was advised by his friend Mikey Kay, an ex-helicopter pilot and war correspondent, to get behind a tree as a protective barrier in case there was a further incident which posed danger.

"Very few people had put the whole thing together. A lot of people just thought this was an isolated incident, wherever they were," Gill added.

"It only dawned on us after we started to see the second incident that this seems to be going on a long way. In the end it was 300m of various debris on the road."

Barrowman said if the couple "had come out of that building a minute earlier" they "would have been right in the middle of it, in the path of the car".

Barrowman said him and his husband were close to being in the path of the vehicle

Wednesday's incident occurred near the Breitscheidplatz, or Breitscheid Square, where an extremist carried out a vehicle attack on a Christmas market in 2016, resulting in 13 deaths.

In that incident, the truck, which was loaded with steel beams, came to a halt on a sidewalk on one side of the market.

It had just rammed a large stand called “Fascination Christmas,” tearing off one side and knocking down a large Christmas tree.

So-called Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a 2019 incident in central Berlin, an SUV plowed into a group of pedestrians, killing four people. The driver had suffered an epileptic seizure and veered onto the sidewalk.

Police did not treat the incident as terror-related, believing instead that the crash was accidental.

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