Six people were taken to hospital after a car crashed into Muslims observing Eid prayers to mark the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, in Newcastle. The incident happened shortly after 9 am Sunday, outside Westgate sports centre in the west end of Newcastle.
Although many witnesses suspected the incident to be a terror attack, Northumbria police described the incident as a “terrible accident”.
According to the police, a 42-year-old woman attending the Eid prayers lost control of the car and drove into the crowd in the car park after the prayers had finished. She was arrested at the scene and taken into custody before being released on conditional bail.
Six people were hit. Two children were in pediatric intensive care and one adult was in the trauma high dependency unit. The remaining three were believed to have serious but not life-threatening injuries
An eyewitness told local media that the woman looked very disturbed, and that he heard the woman say: “How could I do that today?”.
One of the worshipers told The Newcastle Chronicle: “It was chaos, everyone was panicking, people just don’t know what is going on these days. Terrorism is what everyone was thinking straight away.”
Assistant chief constable at Northumbria police, Darren Bes explained the incident in detail:
“At approximately 9.14am we received reports that a car had collided with pedestrians outside of Westgate sports centre, in Newcastle city centre. At that time a large number of people were in the area celebrating the religious festival Eid What we have established is that a 42-year-old female has been celebrating Eid with her family, she then got into her car and has collided with six people in the crowd.
“We have no information to suggest this is terror related. However, this is a serious collision with multiple casualties, and extensive inquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances around this tragic incident.”
Chi Onwurah, Labor MP for Newcastle Central, tweeted: “So sad, I was at the prayers earlier and there were so much joy and unity. Thinking of those affected by what I am told was terrible accident.”
In a statement on Facebook, the Newcastle Central mosque thanked the emergency medical services, the police and over 100 volunteers for their quick response. It also urged everyone to pray for the injured.