THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN CONSIDERABLY UPDATED WITH NEW INFORMATION.
A black Mercedes SUV with Estonian licence plates drove into a crowd in the German capital, Berlin, in the morning of 26 July, injuring six people, three of whom seriously; it later emerged the man had broken up with his girlfriend the previous night and was racing through the city possibly from frustration; his blood alcohol content was slightly above the legal limit.
The incident happened in Charlottenburg borough of Berlin, in front of the Zoologischer Garten train station near the West Berlin zoo. Six people were injured, three of them seriously; previously, the German media reported seven people had been injured. One person was stuck underneath the car and had to be resuscitated.
The 24-year-old driver was arrested immediately. According to the Berlin police, the incident is treated as an accident and nothing indicates a terrorist attack or any political or religious motivation by the driver.
The German newspaper, Der Tagesspiegel, says the man driving the car with Estonian licence plates has a German address in Detmold, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, some 350 kilometres (218 miles) from the site of the accident.
Witnesses told the newspaper that the car seemed to have intended to turn left from Joachimsthaler Straße into Hardenbergstraße at excessive speed. “The man lost control of his car and got on the sidewalk, where many people were already on their way around 7 o’clock,” Der Tagesspiegel said.
The driver attempted to leave the scene
Later in the day, the German media reported the man had given a breathalyser test and it had shown the blood alcohol content at 0.7 per mille (0.07%). The German legal limit is 0.5 per mille. As the investigation progressed, the police said the man had separated from his girlfriend the night before and he had been drinking heavily. Then he just got into his car and started driving on the streets of Berlin.
The police stated the man had “fired” through the city in his vehicle, which was registered to a company, and he had been in a frustrated-aggressive mood or even had suicidal intentions, Der Tagesspiegel reported. Due to the speed the car was being driven at, the police assume the driver had accepted he would injure or even kill other people.
Der Tagesspiegel also says the man attempted to leave the site after the accident as when the police arrived, the car stood in the way indicating the driver wanted to drive back to Hardenbergstraße.
The 24-year-old driver was in the car alone and wasn’t injured. He’s now being investigated on the suspicion of manslaughter.
Another German newspaper, Berliner Zeitung, says two rescue helicopters and around 60 emergency personnel were at the scene.
The neighbourhood where the accident happened is a busy shopping and entertainment district and one of the main business centres of the American sector of West Berlin during the Cold War. It’s near the ruins of the Gedächtniskirche, a church badly damaged in an allied bombing raid in 1943 and not rebuilt as a reminder of the Second World War; and the Europa Center, a famous shopping centre.
The Berlin Zoological Garden, also next to the accident site, is the oldest zoo in Germany. It’s one of the two zoos in the city, the other being Tierpark Berlin in the eastern side of the city. As during the Cold War, West Berlin was sealed off by the Berlin Wall, East Berlin built its own zoo in Friedrichsfelde, in the southeastern part of the city.
Cover: A black Mercedes SUV with Estonian licence plates drove into a crowd in the German capital, Berlin, in the morning of 26 July, injuring seven people, three of whom seriously. Screenshot from a video by the Bild magazine.