At least nine people have been killed and more than 50 injured after a lorry ploughed through a crowd of shoppers at 40mph in a busy Christmas market in Berlin.
German police at the scene have indicated the incident is likely to be a terror attack.
The vehicle sped through a crowd of shoppers at the market on Breitscheidplatz Square, outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in west Berlin.
The driver of the truck was arrested near the scene and is in police custody after initially fleeing the area, while a passenger in the vehicle died at the scene.
Police in Berlin are now using Twitter to urge locals to stay in their homes as German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she is ‘mourning the dead’.
Ambulances and police rushed to the area after the driver mounted the pavement of the market in a central square popular with tourists – in scenes reminiscent of the deadly truck attack in the French city of Nice in July.
Horrifying pictures and videos from Berlin show emergency services racing to the scene and the devastating aftermath as the lorry ploughed through the market.
Terrified market-goers tweeted horrifying images from the scene of the incident – which comes just one hour after the Russian ambassador was shot dead in Ankara.
Mike Fox, a tourist from Birmingham, said the large truck missed him by about three meters as it drove into the market, tearing through tables and wooden stands. ‘It was definitely deliberate,’ he said.
Mr Fox said he helped people who appeared to have broken limbs, and said others were trapped under Christmas stands.
British tourist Emma Rushton tweeted from the scene: ‘Lorry just ploughed through Christmas market in #berlin.
‘There is no road nearby. People crushed. I am safe. I am safe’.
She saw the lorry rush past her at speed and said it could not have been an accident.
She told Sky News she only missed being caught in the chaos because she had climbed up some steps to take a seat.
Ms Rushton said: ‘The stall that we bought our mulled wine from was completely crushed. People were tearing off wooden panels to get out.’
She added: ‘It was not an accident. It was going 40mph, it was in the middle of the market. There was no way that it could have come off the road and it showed no signs of slowing down.’
‘I heard a big noise and then I moved on the Christmas market and saw much chaos…many injured people,’ Jan Hollitzer, deputy editor in chief of Berliner Morgenpost, told CNN. ‘It was really traumatic.’
At 9.35pm police announced the arrest of someone in connection with the attack – believed to be the driver of the truck.
The truck was from Gdansk in Poland – some 80 miles from Berlin.
The vehicle maneuvered from Budapester Strasse onto the area outside the Memorial Church before ploughing into the crowd.
The Die Welt newspaper said that German intelligence had been warning city authorities for the past week of a possible attack on a Christmas market.
The incident evoked memories of an attack in France in July when Tunisian-born man drove a 19-tonne truck along the beach front, mowing down people who had gathered to watch the fireworks on Bastille Day, killing 86 people.
The attack was claimed by Islamic State.
Only last week it was revealed that a 12-year-old boy tried to bomb the Christmas market in the town of Ludwigshafen with a nail bomb – twice.
The boy, of Iraqi-German parents, was radicalised only recently and is now in the care of the local youth authorities.
Both the Berliner Zeitung newspaper and the Berliner Morgenpost reported the truck ran into the market outside the landmark Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church this evening.
A photo posted by the Morgenpost showed damaged tables and stalls.
The Berliner Zeitung said police believed there to be multiple injuries, but police could not immediately be reached to confirm the death toll or number injured.
The Daily Mail