'Blood, bodies everywhere' at Berlin Xmas market

'Blood, bodies everywhere' at Berlin Xmas market
A general view shows the site where a truck ploughed through a crowd at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2016.
PHOTO: Reuters

UPDATE: SINGAPORE - There are no reports so far of any Singaporeans affected by the incident in which a lorry crashed into a Christmas market in Berlin, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) confirmed on Tuesday (Dec 20).

In a statement, MFA said that the Singapore embassy in Berlin had been contacting registered Singaporeans in the city, and had been in contact with German authorities to ascertain if any Singaporeans were involved. "Thus far, there are no reports of ny Singaporeans directly affected or injured by the incident."

The ministry also advised Singaporeans in Germany to closely monitor the local news and abide by the instructions of local authorities.

"They should be vigilant and take the necessary precautions, including avoiding crowded places, and especially the incident site near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. They are also advised to keep in touch with their family and friends so that they know you are safe," MFA said.


Berlin - "He didn't want to stop, he just kept on driving," said one shellshocked tourist, still trembling after a lorry mowed through a Christmas market bustling with revellers in a central Berlin square.

Where revellers mingled on Monday just minutes before, a battered Christmas tree lay on its side and festive stalls were shattered by the force of the lorry that killed at least 12 people and injured 45 others.

Australian Trisha O'Neill, who was sitting metres from the scene of the tragedy, described the horror as she saw the huge lorry bearing down on her.

"We sat just behind the stall having a mulled wine and then all of a sudden there was a big boom," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"I just saw this huge black truck speeding through the markets crushing so many people and then all the lights went out and everything was destroyed.

Read Also: 9 killed as lorry ploughs into Berlin Christmas market

Lorry ploughs into Berlin Christmas market in possible terror attack

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    A lorry ploughed into a busy Christmas market in central Berlin on Monday (Dec 19).

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    At least nine people were killed and 50 more hurt.

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    Police said that the incident was a possible terror attack.

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    Ambulances and heavily armed officers rushed to the area after the driver mounted the pavement of the market in a square popular with tourists.

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    The scenes were reminiscent of July's deadly truck attack in the French city of Nice.

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    "A man who was apparently driving the truck was detained," a police spokeswoman told AFP.

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    As witnesses described scenes of panic and carnage, police said at least nine were killed and 50 others were injured.

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    Four people were seriously injured.

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    "We are investigating whether it was a terror attack but do not yet know what was behind it," a police spokesman said.

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    Authorities said there was no indication of "further dangerous situations in the city near Breitscheidplatz", where the suspected attack took place.

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    Police added they had no indications as yet to the nationality or age of the arrested man.

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    Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel reacted quickly to the tragedy, with spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeting: "We mourn the dead and hope that the many people injured can be helped".

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    Traditional Christmas markets are popular in cities and towns throughout Germany and have frequently been mentioned by security services as potentially vulnerable to attacks.

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    "It's awful. We were in Berlin for Christmas", said American tourist Kathy Forbes. "We also thought it would be safer than Paris."

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    Australian Trisha O'Neill told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation she was only metres from where the truck smashed into the crowded market.

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    "I just saw this huge black truck speeding through the markets crushing so many people and then all the lights went out and everything was destroyed. I could hear screaming and then we all froze," she added.

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    Europe has been on high alert for most of 2016, with terror attacks striking Paris and Brussels, while Germany has been hit by several assaults claimed by the Islamic State group and carried out by asylum-seekers.

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    An axe rampage on a train in the southern state of Bavaria in July injured five people, and a suicide bombing wounded 15 people in the same state six days later.

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    The attack in Berlin also comes five months after Tunisian extremist Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel ploughed a 19-tonne truck into a crowd on the Nice seafront, killing 86 people.

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    In response to the suspected attack in Berlin, French President Francois Hollande said, "The French share in the mourning of the Germans in the face of this tragedy that has hit all of Europe."

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"I could hear screaming and then we all froze. Then suddenly people started to move and lift all the wreckage off people, trying to help whoever was there," she said, adding there was "blood and bodies everywhere".

Ambulances and heavily armed police rushed to the scene, just near one of Berlin's main shopping streets in an area heavily frequented by tourists.

One Tunisian student described the scenes of carnage that greeted him when he arrived just after the truck had completed its deadly journey through the crowd.

"We arrived just after and there were all these people lying on the ground," said a Tunisian student. "I don't feel safe here anymore." Christmas markets are immensely popular in Germany, with stalls selling traditional mulled wine, festive trinkets and filling winter food.

But this market turned into a scene of horror and destruction just one week before Christmas.

O'Neill said everything happened in a flash. "People, including children and older people, weren't moving - people were crying and I just burst into tears. All the police and ambulances came and we decided to walk away from the streets and go somewhere safe. I'm shaking and scared. It all just happened so fast."

The crash occurred in the shadow of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church whose damage in a World War II bombing raid has been preserved as a warning to future generations.

The square is at the end of the Kurfuerstendamm boulevard which was packed with holiday shoppers.

Kathy Forbes, an American in her 40s, said they had chosen Berlin over Paris because they thought it would be "safer".

Read Also: Who were the Nice attack victims?

"We didn't see anything because we were in a restaurant not far from here" she said, adding that they preferred to stay in a nearby mall because they didn't "dare to go back to the hotel as long as the truck driver was still at large." "Now we can go," she said after reports that the driver had been detained.

Germany this year has been hit by a string of attacks claimed by the Islamic State and carried out by asylum seekers.

But it had until now been spared the large-scale death tolls seen in France and Belgium.

"This is the worst case scenario and sends a message to the world: it happens everywhere. Everywhere. It is a terror attack," said a German security guard in his 30s, who declined to give his name.

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