BRUSSELS — An automobile driving at high speed on a dark Sunday morning over a crowd of revelers in a small town in southern Belgium, killing at least six people.
Several dozen people were also injured, including 10 whose lives would be in danger.
“What was supposed to be a convivial party turned into a tragedy,” Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said.
According to the King’s prosecutor’s office, there is no reason to believe in a terrorist attack at this stage of the investigation. Two local thirties were arrested at the scene of the tragedy in Strépy-Bracquegnies, about 50 kilometers south of Brussels.
According to local traditions, carnival-goers gather at dawn with the intention of collecting friends from their homes to finally celebrate. The carnival had been canceled for the past two years due to COVID-19. Some were in costume and rang bells while marching to the rhythm of drums. It was supposed to be a day of release.
The schedule for the rest of the day has been cancelled, Belgian media said.
“It’s a national disaster!” exclaimed the mayor of the city, Jacques Gobert.
More than 150 people of all ages were gathered around 5 a.m. along a long, narrow street.
“A car came from behind at high speed and pulverized a large number of people. The toll is very heavy on a human level,” said Mr. Gobert.
Since the attacks claimed the lives of 32 people in Brussels and Zaventem six years ago, people have the reflex to think of terrorist motives when a tragedy occurs.
However, Deputy Crown Prosecutor Damien Verheyen said there was no evidence that would lead him to believe that terrorist motives might have inspired the two people arrested.
The prosecutor’s office also denied that the tragedy could have been caused by a police chase.
King Philippe and Prime Minister Alexander De Croo had to go to the scene to show their support for the victims and their families.
Carnival is a very popular event in this region. That of Binche, nearby, has even been listed as Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.