Car attack on Dutch royal parade

 Car attack on Dutch royal paradeA car has crashed into a crowd watching a parade involving Dutch Queen Beatrix and her family, killing four people and seriously injuring several others.

The car careered into a monument after narrowly missing an open-topped bus carrying the royals.

No members of the royal family were hurt in the incident, in Apeldoorn, about 90km (56 miles) from Amsterdam.

Dutch officials said the driver, who was seriously hurt in the crash, appeared to have acted deliberately.

But after searching the car and his home, investigators ruled out terrorism as a motive.

They have not named the man, but said he was a Dutch national aged 38.

Apeldoorn mayor Fred de Graaf told a news conference that four people had been killed in the incident and 13 injured – five of them seriously.

‘Bewilderment and disbelief’

Members of the royal family were shown looking on in horror as the battered car careered across the path of their bus and crashed into a stone monument.

In a televised address, Queen Beatrix called the incident shocking, and said everyone would empathise with the victims and their families and friends.

“What began as a great day has ended in a terrible tragedy that has shocked us all deeply,” she said.

“People who were standing close by, people who saw it happen on television, all those who lived through it, must have looked on with bewilderment and disbelief.

“We’re speechless that something so terrible could have happened.”

Cynthia Boll, a photographer at the scene, told the BBC the car was already badly damaged before it slammed into the crowds at high speed.

“There were people everywhere, you could definitely see that it was serious because everywhere was blood and shoes ripped off and all the people giving CPR,” she said.

Other witnesses described people being flung into the air as the car crashed through the throngs who had turned out to see the queen.

Taken by surprise

The crowds were celebrating Queen’s Day – a national holiday in the Netherlands when thousands of people take to the streets to mark the queen’s official birthday.

Hundreds of police officers were on duty in a huge security operation that took months to plan.

But the authorities said they were taken completely by surprise when the small black car smashed through a security fence and into the crowd of people.

Following the incident, flags were lowered to half mast on government buildings across the country and all planned celebrations were called off.

Witnesses said the streets of Apeldoorn were now deserted.