Six injured as car crashes into group of Muslims leaving Eid prayers outside Westgate sports centre in Newcastle

Police say collision is not believed to be terror-related

Samuel Osborne
Sunday 25 June 2017 11:02
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Car ploughs into people in Newcastle

Six people including three children have been taken to hospital after a car crashed into a crowd of Muslims leaving Eid prayers outside a sports centre in Newcastle. Police said the collision outside the Westgate Sports Centre around 9.14am is not believed to be terror-related.

An eight-year-old boy is said to have been critically injured, the BBC reports. A 42-year-old woman was arrested after the collision.

Footage from the scene showed members of the public running towards the scene of the crash amid the sound of shouts and screams. Hundreds of people were at the sports centre to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The six injured people were taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary.

Assistant Chief Constable Darren Best 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 that is held to mark the end of Ramadan.

"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."

Mr Best said extra officers are on patrol around communities in the area to answer any questions or concerns. Specially trained family liaison officers are working with the affected families.

Earlier, a North East Ambulance Service spokesman said: "We received our first 999 call at 9.15 this morning to report a car that had mounted the kerb. We have taken six people to hospital, they have gone to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, three children and three adults."

Emergency services sent to the scene included six ambulances, two paramedic rapid response vehicles, the air ambulance, three ambulance officers, four hazardous area response team vehicles and two paramedic trauma cars. The ambulance service spokesman said the first ambulance arrived on the scene within two minutes of the first 999 call.

A statement from the nearby Newcastle Central Mosque said the collision happened immediately after people were leaving the mosque following Eid prayers.

It 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."

Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle Central, tweeted about the crash after attending the prayers.

The MP said: "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."

Police said extra officers are on patrol to reassure members of the public but repeated that there is nothing to suggest the incident was terror-related. A spokesman said a full investigation into the collision is under way but police are not looking for any other suspects at this time.

The UK remains on high alert for terror-related incidents involving vehicles after a string of recent attacks.

A man drove a van into Muslim worshippers leaving two London mosques in Finsbury Park on 19 June, killing one and injuring others. Police said it was a terrorist attack directed at Muslims.

Any witnesses, or anyone with any information, are urged to contact Northumbria Police on 101 quoting reference number 277 25/06/17

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