3 dead, 20 injured as car hits pedestrians in Melbourne

Melbourne/Sydney, Jan 20 (IANS) A man is in custody after a car intentionally hit several pedestrians in Melbourne on Friday, killing three people and severely injuring up to 20.

A maroon coloured sedan was being pursued by the police in Melbourne’s central business district (CBD) when the vehicle entered a pedestrian-only section of the famous Bourke Street shopping mall, driving erratically along the popular strip.

Victoria Police said that the incident was not related to terrorism, Xinhua news agency reported.

Rebecca Russo, a witness to the chase, said she saw three people hit by the car as it sped through the mall.

“We were just standing on Bourke Street, and we heard a bit of a crash coming from the mall. I saw a maroon car driving up the pedestrian path on the Flinders Street side,” Russo told Fairfax Media on Friday.

“People were running out of the way, they were going very, very fast. I saw him hit a few people. I saw bodies flying into the air.”

Ambulance Victoria confirmed that 20 people were being treated after the incident with four of those being children.

Images shot by a helicopter over the CBD showed the wrecked vehicle in the wake of the incident with part of a child’s pram on the bonnet with unconfirmed reports that a three-year-old child in the pram was dragged up to 100 metres by the car.

There were unconfirmed reports on Friday afternoon that shots were fired as the chase unfolded.

The police said the incident was related to a stabbing in the south-eastern suburb of Windsor at 2 a.m. on Friday morning.

The victim of the stabbing remained in hospital in a critical condition on Friday.

Bill Shorten, leader of Australia’s Federal Opposition, wrote on the social media “Horrific scenes in Melbourne this afternoon. Hearts go out to all those who’ve been hurt,”

The incident occurred as thousands of tourists were in Melbourne for the Australian Open.