News of: Thursday, April 30 2009,
The official Queensday Tour, held this year in the town of Apeldoorn, came to an abrupt end after a car crashed through the audience along the road, and nearly hit the bus with the Royal Family.
Six by-standers died in the incident, and the car driver himself.
The incident happened shortly before noon. The car, a black Suzuki Swift, drove through the audience and came to a standstill after it hit a monumental column, that stands on the middle of the road.
The car crashed close to the (open) bus that transported the Royal Family, including Queen Beatrix, who all witnessed the event from close by.
Seventeen people are injured, it has been confirmed that 6 of them died: 6 by-standers, and the car driver himself.
All activities in Apeldoorn have been cancelled, as well as in some other towns in the Netherlands.
(Update about Amsterdam:)
The Amsterdam authorities have decided that festivities are allowed to go on. The background is also that it might be unsafe to cancel all festivities at once, causing hundreds of thousands of people to head home simultaneously, trying to get on trains, etc.
However, several parties have already been cancelled by party organizers, or have been shortened. Several artists have themselves decided to cancel their performances, particularly at the large parties on the important squares in Amsterdam (Rembrandtplein, Leidseplein and Museumplein).
Queensday (April 30) is a national celebration throughout the Netherlands. The festivities consist mostly of street markets, parties, games for children, etc. In Amsterdam, Qday attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors, including many international tourists.
For most people Qday is an official holiday.
The tour was (as is tradition) broadcast live on national television, so the whole nation could witness the incident.
Here is some footage of the incident, and the seconds after the incident.
At a press conference the following information was given:
- The driver is a 38-year old man, apparently not an immigrant but a native Dutchman.
- There are indications that he acted on purpose, but no indications that it is a terrorist attack. It is unclear what his motive was.
- The man is currently being operated on in the hospital.
- There has been a call to fly all national flags in the country half-mast.
- Four deaths have been confirmed, 5 persons are heavily injured, and 8 other persons are injured.
- Several house searches are being carried out by the police.
A fifth person who was involved in the incident, has died this afternoon.
The man who drove the car appears to be a former security person, who recently got fired, and who lived in the village of Huissen, in the east of the Netherlands. He is still hospitalized, his situation is critical.
According to the Justice Department, it has become clearer that the Royal Family was his target, but there is still no clarity about his motive.
The atmosphere in Amsterdam did not seem to be affected. There were many flags, but only few of them were half-mast. People were partying as usual, it has been reported that some 600,000 people visited Amsterdam today.
Update May 1:
The driver of the black car has died last night, at 3am, bringing the number of fatalities on 6. It remains unclear what his motives were. According to authorities, it seems unlikely that there were other people involved in the attack.
Update May 2:
Another injured person has died, bringing the total number of fatalities to 7.
More info will follow on this page later on, if relevant.
Queensday boat in canal
Dutch flag half-mast