The village of Strépy-Bracquegnies, near La Louvière in Hainaut Province is in shock after 6 people were killed and dozens more injured when they were hit at speed by a car on Sunday morning. The dead and injured people were taking part in the village’s annual carnival. What is normally a high point in the social calendar in Strépy-Bracquegnies turned to tragedy at around 5am on Sunday morning when a vehicle that was travelling at speed mowed down dozens of people in the rue des Canadiens. There is no indication that the tragic events are terror related.

The Francophone public broadcaster RTBF reports that two youths were inside the car. The youths are reported to have been fleeing from the police. However, this has not yet been confirmed by police sources. The car drove on but was eventually intercepted by the police and the driver was arrested.

The dead and injured people are members of the Les Boute-en-train carnival group from La Louvière. The group was getting ready to go to the centre of Strépy-Bracquegnies where the annual carnival procession is due to take place today. The fatal incident happened near to the local sports hall. The sports hall is now being used as a crisis centre. The Red Cross is at the scene to offer help and support to those that witnessed the incident.

The Mayor of La Louvière Jacques Gobert (Francophone socialist) says that a child is among the four people killed. 37 people were injured, 10 of whom seriously. Among the those that sustained minor injures is a La Louvière Town Alderman. The Municipal Disaster Plan is in force in La Louvière.

The Mayor of La Louvière Jacques Gobert told the Francophone commercial broadcaster RTL that “There are no words to describe this. It is dreadful. I arrived just after the disaster. Seeing the bodies lying there strewn over the road. You couldn’t have imaged that something like this could happen here, yet it did”.

The Strépy-Bracquegnies carnival is due to start today and go on for three days. The Heads of the various carnival groups have said that the carnival will go ahead, but that it will be adapted to take account of Sunday morning’s tragedy and the shock and grief that is felt in the village and beyond. This year’s carnival is the first to be held since 2019. In 2020 and 2021 the carnival was cancelled due to the coronavirus restrictions.

The Federal Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Flemish liberal) and the Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden (Flemish Christian democratic) are among those to have expressed sympathy with the victims and their families.