Barcelona crash: Van ploughs into people in Las Ramblas

August 17th, 20176:36 pm @

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At least 13 people have been killed and dozens injured after a van in Barcelona ploughed into pedestrians before a gunman took hostages in a nearby bar.

Pictures and video emerging from the scene show armed police and paramedics rushing to Las Ramblas, a busy tree-lined promenade in the centre of the city. 

Local media are reporting that Driss Oukabir, named earlier by police as a suspect, has been arrested. 

Horrifying footage recorded at the scene shows dozens of victims lying injured on the pavement.

Police have confirmed that 50 people are hurt, with Catalonia’s interior minister Joaquim Forn saying it is ‘very possible’ that the number of dead will rise because of the ‘very serious’ wounds to victims.

Gunfire was heard at the Corte Ingles store in the area after police announced a ‘massive crash’ in Las Ramblas.

Officers were said to have negotiated with an attacker in a Turkish restaurant where hostages were being held.

A second van was found parked in the town of Vic some 50 miles north of Barcelona after police said it could have been used as a getaway vehicle.

The civil guard has said the van used in the attack was rented by Oukabir in the town of Santa Perpetua de la Mogada.

There are harrowing scenes in Barcelona after a van was driven into pedestrians in Las Ramblas in the heart of the city. Thirteen people have been killed and dozens have been injured as armed police swarm the streets 

There are harrowing scenes in Barcelona after a van was driven into pedestrians in Las Ramblas in the heart of the city. Thirteen people have been killed and dozens have been injured as armed police swarm the streets 

The hired van (pictured), registered to rental company Telefurgo, rammed into scores of holidaymakers and their children before police swooped. The crumpled van is pictured as a body lies on the ground 

The hired van (pictured), registered to rental company Telefurgo, rammed into scores of holidaymakers and their children before police swooped. The crumpled van is pictured as a body lies on the ground 

Driss Oukabir (pictured) has been arrested by police, according to local media reports. The Guardia Civil previously said the van used in the attack was rented by Oukabir in the town of Santa Perpetua de la Mogada

Driss Oukabir (pictured) has been arrested by police, according to local media reports. The Guardia Civil previously said the van used in the attack was rented by Oukabir in the town of Santa Perpetua de la Mogada

Pictured: Stills from a video showing a man being arrested by Spanish police in Barcelona after the suspected terror attack in the heart of the city

At least 13 people have been killed and dozens injured after a van ploughed into pedestrians in Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s busiest tourist area. Police are still hunting two armed men who have escaped and are believed to be hiding in a nearby restaurant 

At least 13 people have been killed and dozens injured after a van ploughed into pedestrians in Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s busiest tourist area. Police are still hunting two armed men who have escaped and are believed to be hiding in a nearby restaurant 

Eyewitnesses said swarms of people were running for their lives with one woman desperately screaming out for her child. Pictured: The van can be seen with a crumpled bonnet as people lie motionless on the pavement 

Eyewitnesses said swarms of people were running for their lives with one woman desperately screaming out for her child. Pictured: The van can be seen with a crumpled bonnet as people lie motionless on the pavement 

Footage had emerged of heavily armed police swarming the area, searching for the attackers. Witnesses said the area was swamped with terror cops and plain clothed officers ‘within 30 seconds’ 

Footage had emerged of heavily armed police swarming the area, searching for the attackers. Witnesses said the area was swamped with terror cops and plain clothed officers ‘within 30 seconds’ 

 Pictured: A woman lies injured on the pavement as paramedics offer treatment 

 Pictured: A woman lies injured on the pavement as paramedics offer treatment 

Police have confirmed that at least 52 people are injured, with Catalonia's interior minister Joaquim Forn saying it is 'very possible' that the number of dead will rise because of the 'very serious' wounds to victims. Pictured: Police carry a woman away from the scene

Police have confirmed that at least 52 people are injured, with Catalonia’s interior minister Joaquim Forn saying it is ‘very possible’ that the number of dead will rise because of the ‘very serious’ wounds to victims. Pictured: Police carry a woman away from the scene

Pictured: Victims lie in the street after the van attack in Barcelona 

Pictured: Armed police on the streets of Barcelona

Pictured: Armed police on the streets of Barcelona

Pictured: Armed policemen arrive in a cordoned-off area after a van ploughed into a crowd in Barcelona 

Pictured: Armed policemen arrive in a cordoned-off area after a van ploughed into a crowd in Barcelona 

Pictured: The scene of the van crash in Barcelona 

Pictured: People flee after the van drove into crowds in centre of Barcelona 

Pictured: People flee after the van drove into crowds in centre of Barcelona 

Pictured: A man lying on the street in Barcelona after the van ploughed into pedestrians along Las Ramblas 

Pictured: A man lying on the street in Barcelona after the van ploughed into pedestrians along Las Ramblas 

Pictured: A man is given treatment by a paramedic in Barcelona

Pictured: A man is given treatment by a paramedic in Barcelona

Pictured left: Injured people are treated at the scene in Las Ramblas, Barcelona after the horrific attack. Right: People trapped in a shop under police guard

Pictured: The scene in Barcelona today as emergency services rush to help

Pictured: The scene in Barcelona today as emergency services rush to help

Pictured: People gather round a victim after the van drove into a crowd in Barcelona 

Pictured: People gather round a victim after the van drove into a crowd in Barcelona 

Pictured: People sit on the pavement in Barcelona after a van ploughed through pedestrians in Las Ramblas

Pictured: People sit on the pavement in Barcelona after a van ploughed through pedestrians in Las Ramblas

Pictured: Emergency services outside the El Corte Ingles store in Barcelona

Pictured: Emergency services outside the El Corte Ingles store in Barcelona

Pictured: Victims are helped to safety after being caught up in the horrific incident in Barcelona 

Pictured: Victims are helped to safety after being caught up in the horrific incident in Barcelona 

Pictured: Police officers tell members of the public to leave the scene in a street in Barcelona

Pictured: Police officers tell members of the public to leave the scene in a street in Barcelona

Pictured: An ambulance attending the scene in Las Ramblas 

Pictured: An ambulance attending the scene in Las Ramblas 

Pictured: People taking refuge in a shop near Las Ramblas in Barcelona

Pictured: People taking refuge in a shop near Las Ramblas in Barcelona

Pictured: A man sits on the pavement with his head in his hands after the tragic attack, now being treated as a terrorist incident 

Pictured: A man sits on the pavement with his head in his hands after the tragic attack, now being treated as a terrorist incident 

Pictured: Police attending the scene in Barcelona. A large part of the area has been cordoned off by emergency services 

Pictured: Police attending the scene in Barcelona. A large part of the area has been cordoned off by emergency services 

Pictured: A person is stretched out of a mall by medical staff members in a cordoned off area after the van ploughed into the crowd

Pictured: A person is stretched out of a mall by medical staff members in a cordoned off area after the van ploughed into the crowd

Pictured: The President of the United States has condemned the attack and promised to do 'whatever is necessary to help' the Spanish

Pictured: The President of the United States has condemned the attack and promised to do ‘whatever is necessary to help’ the Spanish

Police are said to have now found a second transit van hired at the same time as the vehicle used in the attack.

It was found parked in the town of Vic some 50 miles north of Barcelona and officers believe that a second person involved in today’s attack used it to get away from the Catalan capital.  

Eyewitnesses reported seeing people running away and screaming after the terror attack happened. 

A witness called Angel said he had seen the attacker close up and described him as ‘a young man, maximum 25 years old, chestnut brown hair and skinny.’

Others described him as about 5ft 6in tall and wearing a blue and white striped top.

Another witness, Isaac, said: ‘The person was accelerating. He mounted the pavement to run people over. We saw the van passing by running people over at 50 miles an hour. It was as if it was driving through a field of corn.’

A taxi driver told Catalan TV station TV3: ‘The van was doing zigzags knocking over everyone he could. It was shocking.’ 

Steve Garrett was in a nearby market and sheltered in a bakery with several others after streams of people ran inside.

One member of the group, who took refuge with him, said she had heard gunshots after the incident.  

Mr Garrett told the BBC: ‘A very large number of people ran into the market area in a big kind of way, lots of screaming, lots of shouting.

‘The security guards immediately responded. We ran into the bakery with four or five other people and ran straight upstairs and hunkered down whilst an enormous wave of people went through the market.

‘Obviously coming from England it was reminding me a great deal of what happened in London, so we were very concerned about what might be going on next.

‘The lady that was with us said she heard some gunshots.’

Mr Garrett said a ‘second wave’ of people then entered the market, followed by armed police.

He said: ‘They seemed to sweep through the market area. They seemed to be looking for someone. They were going very carefully, very cautiously, stall to stall.’ 

Pictured: Police officers cordon off a street in Barcelona after the attack

Pictured: Police officers cordon off a street in Barcelona after the attack

Police were reported to have found a Spanish passport inside the van. 

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy said he is in contact with all emergency services and stressed the priority is to help the injured.  

Armed police were also seen rushing into the area while emergency services asked to close Metro and train stations in the city.

One witness told Sky News: ‘It was quite terrifying. All of a sudden scores of people ran towards us, hysterical, children hysterical… first of all they said someone had been shot.

‘All of a sudden a second wave of people came down the street, we just ran, I lost my husband in the melee. The shops went into lockdown mode.’

She added: ‘We really had no idea what was going on other than that we needed to get ourselves out of there very quickly… there was just hundreds of people running away very quickly.’

Another said: ‘We were just told to run, it must have been quite close because… there was an immediate stampede to run away. We were just a minute away from it.’ 

The local police force was said to be evacuating the area including the nearby main square the Plaza de Catalunya. 

El Periodico said the CIA had warned local police two months ago that La Rambla could be the scene of a terrorist attack. 

‘Huge collision on Las Ramblas in Barcelona by an individual driving a van, many injuries,’ a statement from Catalan police said. 

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said Britain ‘stands with Spain against terror’ in response to the tragic news.

She added: ‘My thoughts are with the victims of today’s terrible attack in Barcelona and the emergency services responding to this ongoing incident. The UK stands with Spain against terror.’ 

US President Donald Trump condemned the attack and promised to do ‘whatever is necessary to help’ the Spanish. 

As news of the atrocity was breaking, US First Lady Melania Trump tweeted: ‘Thoughts and prayers to #Barcelona’. 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, tweeted: ‘My thoughts are with the victims of this barbaric terrorist attack in the great city of Barcelona and with their brave emergency services.’

Mr Khan added: ‘London stands with Barcelona against the evil of terrorism.’

The United States offered its assistance to Spain, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson adding that consular assistance was being provided to Americans in the city. He also urged US nationals to check in with their families.

‘Terrorists around the world should know – the United States and our allies are resolved to find you and bring you to justice,’ Tillerson told a press conference with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and their Japanese counterparts.  

Pictured: Ambulances in the street in Barcelona 

Pictured: Ambulances in the street in Barcelona 

Pictured: Emergency services rushing to the scene

Pictured: People appear to be hurt at the scene in Barcelona

Pictured right: The scene after the van reportedly drove into pedestrians. Pictured left: Emergency services rushing to the scene

Pictured: Emergency services rushing to the scene

Pictured: Emergency services rushing to the scene

Aamer Anwar was walking down Las Ramblas at the time, which he said was ‘jam-packed’ with tourists.

He told Sky News: ‘All of a sudden, I just sort of heard a crashing noise and the whole street just started to run, screaming. I saw a woman right next to me screaming for her kids.

‘Police were very, very quickly there, police officers with guns, batons, everywhere. Then the whole street started getting pushed back.’

Mr Anwar described the scene as ‘chaos’, with everyone in ‘panic mode’.

He added: ‘Police officers who got there just started screaming at people to move back, move back.

‘One of the shopkeepers tried to speak to him. He said he saw five or six people seriously injured on the ground, a van had driven into people.

‘And literally within probably 30 seconds, police vans, ambulances, police officers with guns, were piling out and we were being sectioned off and then being pushed rapidly back down Ramblas.’ 

Will Ako, 26, from London, was eating in a restaurant called Taller De Tapas with his family when they heard a disturbance.

He told the Press Association: ‘We had just finished eating and were about to leave when we heard a commotion and the patrons in the restaurant rushing from their seats.

‘I then saw people running to the east of the restaurant and I saw a couple of people about 30 yards down the road crouching around what looked like someone on the ground and they were calling for assistance.

‘Within a couple of minutes, police started to arrive and they were running west of the restaurant and some were telling us to stay inside.

‘Soon after, loads of cars, bikes and ambulances arrived and then the armed police.’

He said he was in the restaurant with around 40 people, adding: ‘We’re not sure what’s happening.’

Tom Gueller, who lives on an adjoining road, was forced to flee the scene when he saw the van hurtling through the crowds.

He told BBC’s PM: ‘I heard screams and a bit of a crash and then I just saw the crowd parting and this van going full pelt down the middle of the Ramblas and I immediately knew that it was a terrorist attack or something like that.

‘I ran away, I mean I live near, I had to run back about 50 metres or so and go up to my flat and obviously see what’s happening on the road from my balcony.’

Asked about the van, he said: ‘It wasn’t slowing down at all. It was just going straight through the middle of the crowds in the middle of the Ramblas.’

Mr Gueller said many of the shops had pulled their shutters down and armed police were positioned on street corners, with cordons in place on the road.

Tourist Mel Higgins told Sky News she was barricaded into a shop with her daughters at the time of the incident.

She said: ‘I was with my two daughters and we were walking down the Passeig de Gracia, which is sort of parallel and one up from Las Ramblas, when suddenly people just started running towards us, screaming and shouting: ‘Run! Run! Run!’.

‘So I grabbed the two girls and there was an Orange phone shop was open and we ran inside and they locked the doors of the phone shop, and we just all waited there for I suppose about 20 minutes.

‘And then it seemed very calm out on the street. And obviously the people working in Orange were in touch with the police and the police said just stay there for now.

‘Then about 20 minutes later, they said we could leave and we were just about to leave when people started running again, and screaming, and they said: ‘Everyone back in!’.’   

Thomas Riley, a civil servant from London, 22, had just left Catalunya station 300 feet from Las Ramblas with his father and brother when he heard ‘shouting and crying’.

The trio were directed back into the Metro station and locked in by police, before being ordered to take the first train.

He told MailOnline: ‘There was lots of commotion, shouting, and people crying. I was very frightened because no one would speak English to me.

‘The emergency services and officials acted very swiftly and we were directed back down onto the metro station and locked there for a while.

‘I still had no idea what had happened by this point. An empty train arrived at a platform and we were all told to get on it quickly!

‘Once the station was empty, we were taken out of the area a few stops picking people up en route.’

Mr Riley said the terrified passengers were directed by police to the seafront, where they were asked to ‘hide’ due to reports of gunmen on the loose.

He said: ‘Lots of people on the tube were in tears. Once I got above ground, the streets were cut off by police everywhere.

‘There was lots of confusion and people checking phones. The police told us to stay calm and hide due to reports of gunmen.

‘Eventually, we were directed to the sea front by officials and I was asked if I had information by the police.’  

Authorities in the area have warned people to stay away from the area. 

The incident has taken place at the height of the tourist season in Barcelona, which is one of Europe’s top travel destinations with at least 11 million visitors a year. 

More to follow…

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