False terror attack rumours spark stampede at Malaga Easter festival

Rumours of a terrorist attack at Malaga’s annual Easter parade caused panic, resulting in crowds of people stampeding through the streets

An Easter festival in Malaga turned into a stampede in the early hours of this morning after rumours circulated around the crowd that there was a terrorist attack at the event.

The rumour, which was untrue, was sparked by a fight which broke out between several people according to police. Seeing people lying on the ground, confused spectators believed that a terrorist in a truck was intentionally ploughing into members of the crowd, sparking mass panic. 

The incident took place at 2.10am on the morning of April 11 in the city in southern Spain, and was captured on video. At least two people were injured as a result of the thousands of fleeing spectators. One woman cut her leg on a fence and a man received a serious blow to the arm.

As panic started to spread through the crowd, people began running to try to escape, including those who were part of the Cautivo procession of religious floats. Parade organisers tried to intervene in the ensuing chaos, but it took 20 minutes before calm was restored.

A police officer on the scene emphasised that the situation could have been much more serious earlier in the day. He said: “If this had happened when there were more people on the street, the consequences could have been much worse.”

A fight broke out at Malaga's Easter parade leading to rumours of a terror attack (Twitter/Bajopaliocsr)

Onlooker Daniel Lopez told Sur.es: “At first it was a fight between two or three young people, but in a matter of seconds more and more people started to join in and that created a situation of panic that spread quickly. It was all very fast, we could hardly realise what was happening.”

The incident echoes real terror attacks that have happened across Europe in the last year. Last month, a man mowed down members of the public on London’s Westminster Bridge, killing four and injuring 50 others. In December, a man ploughed a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12. And in July 2016 a lorry was driven into crowds in Nice who’d gathered to watch a fireworks display to celebrate Bastille Day.

Frank Brehany, MD of consumer complaints website HolidayTravelWatch, told The Independent that holidaymakers should always take stock of the situation before getting carried away. He said: “Throughout Spain, this is a major week for pilgrimages and tourism. People are on edge about the prospect of attacks, but there is a need for people to take very careful stock of their surroundings – and to always take note of what the authorities are saying. 

“Holidaymakers should not react straight away unless something big is obviously happening. If you take a moment, you can assess whether a threat is real or not in seconds. Wherever they are, tourists should be taking their cue directly from police or law enforcement agencies. Failure to do that raises the possibility of serious injuries, like those seen last night. 

“It’s really important before you go on holiday to research and actually look at what police are saying or the home affairs department of each country. If you understand what the issues are in terms of security, especially at large gatherings and public events, you’ll be far more likely to think before you act and take stock.”