Berlin Christmas Market attack death toll climbs to 12

Posted at 4:30 PM, Dec 19, 2016

BERLIN (CNN) — Twelve people are dead after a tractor trailer slammed into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin on Monday, police said in tweets. Officials said 48 people are in the hospital, some with serious injuries. The crash is being investigated as an act of terrorism, according to a German intelligence official familiar with the matter.

Authorities have apprehended the suspected driver, according to a police spokesman.

The crash occurred in Breitscheidplatz in the western part of central Berlin. Another person who was in the truck died on scene, Berlin police tweeted.

“A truck just ran over a sidewalk at #Breitscheidplatz Our colleague report multiple injuries. more to follow,” Berlin police tweeted.

Witness Emma Rushton tweeted: “People crushed. I am safe. I am safe.”

Rushton told CNN that the truck didn’t slow down. She said the truck was traveling about 40 mph through a crowded pedestrian area.

“There’s no way it was an accident,” Rushton told CNN.

“We saw at least 10 people” injured and lying on the ground, she said.

Police could not confirm whether the incident was related to terror and had no information on the driver.

Video showed the vehicle was a tractor-trailer.

Jan Hollitzer, deputy editor-in-chief of Berliner Morgenpost, a Berlin newspaper, said he saw people underneath the truck when it came to a stop.

German officials have been concerned about security around Christmas markets, which are the main place for Christmas shopping.

In November, the US State Department alerted US citizens to the heightened risk of terrorist attacks throughout Europe, especially during the holiday season. The alert, which encouraged citizens to be cautious at the holiday festivals, expires on February 20.

Julian Reichelt, editor-in-chief at Bild, a German tabloid newspaper, said the market would be busy every night of the week leading up to Christmas.

The market is difficult to access by accident.

“It looks like something that was adapted by Nice,” Reichelt said, referring to the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, France, that left at least 80 people dead and more than 400 injured.

One witness said the truck had a Polish license plate, according to Reichelt.