One person has died and 22 people have been injured after a speeding vehicle ploughed in to a crowd at New York’s Time Square.
A man was driving the wrong way up the street in the heart of the the US city at lunchtime on Thursday.
The 26-year-old driver was taken into custody and was being tested for alcohol. Reports suggested the ex-military serviceman had a history of driving while intoxicated.
Giving a news conference, New York mayor Bill de Blasio said police did not suspect a link to terrorism.
Television images taken at the scene showed people led away on stretchers.
The maroon-colored Honda sedan came to rest with two of its wheels in the air, leaning on a lamppost and steel barriers intended to block vehicles from getting onto the sidewalk.
Images from the scene show the car on its side, resting against a lamp post.
Pictures of the aftermath were posted by social media users, which showed a car spewing smoke as emergency services reported to the scene.
Witnesses said there was panic immediately following the crash. Some people fled the scene, while others rushed to get police help. Within 20 minutes, officers had secured the square.
Tyrone Lopez, 37, said the driver was flying up the street at upwards of “70 miles per hour”:
“I saw one lady he hit ― he dragged her up a half a block before she stopped at the corner, and he kept going up the street hitting everything on the way.”
Tiffany Wong, 23, was across the street from the carnage when the crash occurred. Wong told HuffPost:
“It was unreal, I’m still trying to process. I saw the car go down the sidewalk across from me, then it was smoking and on fire. I saw one woman who was hit and on the ground. And that was after he hit a bunch of others.”
Wong said she saw a man inside the vehicle crawl out and try to run away. Other pedestrians stopped him from fleeing, she said.
One injured pedestrian said the collision appeared to be “intentional”.
Police and fire officials have blocked off the street three blocks in every direction from the incident.
The crash happened at midday on a hot, clear day that brought large crowds of people into the streets to enjoy the good weather.
The sidewalks in many parts of Times Square and surrounding blocks are lined with metal posts designed to prevent cars from getting onto the sidewalks and other public areas.
That network of barricades, though, is far from a complete defense. There are many areas where vehicles could be driven onto packed sidewalks or public plazas.
Times Square also has a heavy police presence at all hours of the day and night.