Melbourne police believe car ploughing incident outside train station was 'deliberate'
- Motorist 'collided with a number of pedestrians'
- Fourteen people transported to city hospitals, a number are critical
- Police arrest driver of the car, later arrest second man
- One man s 32-year-old Australian of Afghan descent with history of mental illness
- Social media images from the scene show casualties being treated on the street by paramedics
Melbourne police believe car ploughing incident outside train station was a "deliberate act".
In a terrifying incident during the pre-Christmas shopping rush, the white Suzuki SUV rammed into a large number of pedestrians at high speed on the pavement outside Flinders Street railway station at around 5pm local time (6am GMT), one of the Australian city’s main transport hubs.
Police said the driver and another man have been arrested after what they said they believed "was a deliberate act". Asked if the incident was terrorism-related, Victorian Police commander Russell Barrett said: "The motivations are unknown."
More than a dozen people have been injured, a number of whom are in a critical condition.
Media conference regarding the Flinders Street incident with Commander Russell Barrett. pic.twitter.com/j7zx0V5fYQ— Victoria Police (@VictoriaPolice) December 21, 2017
Police now report that the driver arrested was a 32-year-old Australian of Afghan descent with a history of drug use and mental health problems, and there is no evidence to suggest a link with terrorism at this stage.
A second man, aged 24, who was arrested in close proximity to the scene in Melbourne was discovered to have a bag containing knives after he was seen filming the incident, police said.
Police are currently attending an incident on Flinders Street between Elizabeth and Swanston streets where a vehicle has collided with a number of pedestrians. Police have arrested the driver of the car. Extent of injuries are not known at this stage. (1/2)— Victoria Police (@VictoriaPolice) December 21, 2017
Images from the scene showed a number of people receiving medical attention, while a white Suzuki SUV appeared to have collided with a phone box.
They included a pre-school aged child with head injuries who was taken to hospital in a serious condition.
The force said: "Police have saturated the CBD (central business district) area following an incident where a car has collided with a number of pedestrians on Flinders Street.
"The incident occurred when the vehicle struck a number of pedestrians in front of Flinders Street Station just after 4.30pm.
"The driver of the vehicle and a second man have been arrested and are in police custody.
"A number of people were treated at the scene for a range of injuries and have been transported to hospital."
If members of the public have video or images which might assist police with their investigation into the Flinders Street incident they are encouraged to upload them here → https://t.co/oFfWkid509 pic.twitter.com/fzmX79HOv5— Victoria Police (@VictoriaPolice) December 21, 2017
A woman called Sue told 3AW radio: "As it (the car) approached this intersection... it just mowed everybody down, people were flying everywhere."
And man who was working in a nearby shop, and was at the scene before emergency services arrived, told the Australian Associated Press: "There was no screaming, just people lying there."
Vince added that onlookers were "just holding them and comforting them".
Kyra Gillespie was one of "hundreds of people" who were told to get off trams near the area following the incident.
She told ABC News: "I think everyone is a little bit shaken up by the experience.
"Lots of people were phoning their loved ones to tell them they were OK."
Another witness, John, told ABC Radio Melbourne that he saw a "SUV coming at high speed".
"(I) really just heard the collision with people with bags and what must be shopping trolleys - and I hope not prams," he said.
"I've really never seen anything like this before and I haven't stopped shaking."
Leader of the opposition Bill Shorten tweeted: "Shocking scenes in Melbourne this afternoon. Credit to first responders who are doing us proud once again. Thinking of everyone caught up in this atrocity."
Social media images from the scene showed casualties being treated in the street by paramedics.
A young man in jeans and a T-shirt could also be seen being arrested by three police officers on the steps of the station, although it was unclear if he had been in the car.
According to the AAP, a witness said the Suzuki was travelling at around 60mph.
"The intersection was full of pedestrians and he just ploughed through," the witness named Jim told ABC TV.
"The only thing that slowed him down was him hitting pedestrians.
"There was no braking, there was no slowing down. Whether it was targeted or whether he had a heart attack, or was drunk, I don't know."
Authorities evacuated surrounding buildings and have offered counselling to traumatised bystanders.
A shop owner near the scene said: “The only thing that seemed to be slowing him down was the amount of pedestrians he had hit.”
"All you could hear was just 'bang bang bang bang bang'," he told ABC Radio.
The incident came months after a car struck pedestrians in Melbourne's busiest shopping centre in January, killing six people.
The driver, whose case is still being heard in court, had allegedly been pursued by police on suspicion of stabbing his brother.
After the crash, officials installed concrete bollards in various locations of the city - including Flinders Street -in an attempt to prevent similar incidents.