Four dead as Queen's Day celebrations turn into tragedy
Celebrations of Queen's Day in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn took a tragic turn around midday on Thursday.
Four people were killed and 13 injured when a car ploughed through a crowd of spectators watching the Queen's Day parade.
The queen may have escaped an attack. The car broke through the barriers, hitting people and crashing into a monumental column as the open-topped coach carrying the Royal Family passed.
The public prosecutor confirmed at a press conference that the driver was acting intentionally, but that there is no terrorist connection. He is reported to have made two earlier attempts to cross safety barriers, driving at a speed of at least 80 kms/hr. The driver was injured in the crash and had to be cut from his vehicle, after which he was arrested and taken away for interrogation. At present no details have been released about the driver except that he is a 38-year old Dutch national.
Police are meticulously searching the car wreck, assisted by the national demining squad and in the presence of the National Anti-terror Coordinator.
The Royal Family, waving to the crowd from their open-topped bus, witnessed the incident. Immediately afterwards the vehicle was driven to Het Loo palace, accompanied by security guards. The Government Information Service has announced the queen and her family are deeply shocked by the events.
The mayor of Apeldoorn has cancelled all Queen's Day festivities in his city. In Rotterdam, too, the celebrations have been cancelled, while the capital Amsterdam and other cities are toning down most activities. Parties, performances and flea markets may have to close earlier than usual, but given the size of the crowds that have flocked to the capital, Amsterdam in particular is unlikely to ask people to leave early.
Queen's Day is an annual national holiday, celebrated on the birthday of the late Queen Juliana, 30 April. Queen Beatrix' actual birthday is on 31 January; she is 71 today.
Radio Netherlands/ Expatica