At least 15 people have been injured after a car was rammed into a crowd in Rio de Janeiro near Copacabana beach. It’s unclear if the incident is a terrorist act.
A car was driven onto the sidewalk on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro Thursday night, running down pedestrians. The driver then attempted to escape but was detained, according to the Military Police (PM).
At least 15 people were injured, including four children and a baby, local news report. There is no information on the severity of the injuries yet. Rescue teams are on the scene. The injured have been taken to the Miguel Couto and Souza Aguiar hospitals.
Local police commander Colonel Angelotti said the driver of a black Hyundai i30 plowed through the crowd after allegedly suffering an epileptic attack. The car only stopped after reaching the sands of the world famous beach. Authorities reportedly found a box of medication inside the car, indicating that the driver suffered from convulsions. The man has now been taken to undergo a medical examination, Colonel Angelotti said.
When the car came to a halt, pedestrians swarmed the vehicle in an apparent attempt to lynch the driver, who tried to escape the wrath of the crowd. Police confirmed they had to intervene to prevent the driver from being injured.
“We got there in time to keep him from being lynched,” Angelotti said, adding, that the driver was “immediately” taken to a police station to give a statement.
According to an Oglobo report, the driver was identified as Antonio de Almeida Anquim, 41. Two years ago, Anquim was allegedly involved in another accident, when he was riding a motorcycle and crashed into the back of a van.
“My staff did not notice evidence of drunkenness, but he will undergo tests at the Medical-Legal Institute,” Gabriel Ferrando, from the local police precinct, told Oglobo. The driver claimed he suffered a “blackout” because of his epilepsy, Ferrando added.
The beach was crowded at the time of the incident, as locals strolled along the waterfront seeking relief from a heat wave which peaked at almost 40 degrees Celsius. Witnesses said the vehicle was not moving at high speed when it plowed into the crowd, as the traffic on Avenida Atlantica was heavy.
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