Six injured after car hits crowd celebrating Eid in Newcastle

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Six injured after car hits crowd celebrating Eid in Newcastle” was written by Helen Pidd North of England editor, for The Guardian on Monday 26th June 2017 02.20 UTC

Six people were taken to hospital with serious injuries following Eid celebrations in Newcastle after a woman attending the event drove into them.

Three children were injured in what the Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central, Chi Onwurah, said had been called a terrible accident.

Despite early fears from onlookers that the crash was a terrorist attack, Northumbria police said they did not believe the incident was related to terrorism.

The incident happened shortly after 9am Sunday, outside Westgate sports centre in the west end of Newcastle where hundreds had gathered to say Eid prayers to mark the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.

Witnesses said the prayers had finished and people had then gathered in the car park.

The driver, a 42-year-old woman, was arrested at the scene and taken into custody before being released on conditional bail. A witness said she seemed shocked and said: “How could I do that today?”

The six casualties were taken to the Royal Victoria infirmary. Two of the children were in paediatric intensive care and one adult was in the trauma high dependency unit on Sunday evening.

The remaining three were believed to have serious but not life-threatening injuries, police said.

Darren Best, assistant chief constable at Northumbria police, said: “At approximately 9.14am we received reports that a car had collided with pedestrians outside of Westgate sports centre, in Newcastle city centre. At that time a large number of people were in the area celebrating the religious festival Eid What we have established is that a 42-year-old female has been celebrating Eid with her family, she then got into her car and has collided with six people in the crowd.

“We have no information to suggest this is terror related. However, this is a serious collision with multiple casualties, and extensive inquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances around this tragic incident.”

Extra officers were on patrol to answer any questions or concerns from communities in the area, Best added. Family liaison officers were working with the affected families.

Mory Sanogo, whose brother-in-law was hit by the car, told the Chronicle: “I think the driver just lost control and she couldn’t stop the car. She was saying ‘how could I do that today?’”

Police in Newcastle after a vehicle crashed into pedestrians outside Westgate sports centre.
Police in Newcastle after a vehicle crashed into pedestrians outside Westgate sports centre. Photograph: Raoul Dixon/North News & Pictures Ltd

The incident occurred six days after a man drove a van into a group of Muslims near Finsbury Park mosque in London, killing one man.

One of the worshippers in Newcastle told the Newcastle Chronicle what he saw. Asif Anwar, 29 said: “It was chaos, everyone was panicking, people just don’t know what is going on these days. Terrorism is what everyone was thinking straight away.”

The event, called Eid in the Open, had been organised by Newcastle Central mosque. It began at 7.30am Sunday, and was set to include food stalls and a bouncy castle.

In a statement on Facebook the mosque said: “Immediately after the Eid prayers when the people were starting to leave the venue, a car collided with pedestrians. The injured were immediately attended to by the emergency medical services and the police. All the injured have been taken to the hospital. We pray and hope that all those affected recover soon fully.

“We thank the emergency medical services, the police and over 100 volunteers from the mosque for their quick response to the incident. We were able to clear the area promptly ensuring there was no delay in the injured being attended to.

“We urge everyone to please pray for all those affected. The police are investigating the incident at the moment and we will give an update as soon as we have more information.”

Onwurah tweeted about the incident after attending the prayers, saying: “So sad, I was at the prayers earlier and there were so much joy and unity. Thinking of those affected by what I am told was terrible accident.”

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