Car driven into German carnival parade injuring dozens

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The car ploughed into a carnival parade injuring several people in Volkmarsen, Germany. (Reuters)
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The car ploughed into a carnival parade injuring several people in Volkmarsen, Germany. (Reuters)
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Updated 24 February 2020

Car driven into German carnival parade injuring dozens

BERLIN: A driver plowed his car into a carnival parade in the western German town of Volkmarsen on Monday injuring 30 people, including children, some of them seriously, police said on Monday.
Regional broadcaster Hessenschau said police believed the driver, identified as a 29-year-old German citizen, had acted deliberately, but that nothing was immediately known about his motive.
German news website HNA cited witnesses as saying the man appeared to have targeted children and had driven “at full throttle” into the crowd, which had gathered for the traditional procession ahead of the Christian season of Lent.
Asked how many were injured, a police spokesman in the regional center of Kassel said: “I would say about 30.”
Police said on Twitter that some people were seriously injured, including children. Bild newspaper said a third of the injuries were serious and some were life-threatening.
Police assumed it was an attack but there were no indications that it was politically motivated, Bild said.
Police called off all carnival parades in the German state of Hesse, where Volkmarsen is located, as a precautionary measure, but said they were not aware of any danger elsewhere in Germany.
The incident comes less than a week after a man gunned down 11 people, including himself, in one of the worst racist attacks in Germany since World War Two.
Carnival is hugely popular in parts of western Germany, especially in Rhineland cities such as Cologne and Duesseldorf, where festivities peak on “Rose Monday” with tens of thousands attending street parades featuring comical or satirical floats.
Police cars and ambulances rushed to the scene in Volkmarsen, a small town in northern Hesse, 260 miles (420 km) west of Berlin.
“We are on the ground with a big deployment. An investigation is underway,” north Hesse police said on Twitter after the incident, which they said occurred at about 2:45 p.m. (1345 GMT).
Amateur pictures published online showed police officers standing next to a silver Mercedes-Benz car that appeared to have been involved.
German media said the driver deliberately broke through plastic barriers set up by police around the parade area, where 1,500 people were expected to gather.
The car had continued driving through the crowd for about 30 meters before coming to a halt, a witness told Hessenschau. Police were unable to question the driver for the time being, Welt newspaper said, without elaborating.
In 2016, a Tunisian man with Islamist militant ties plowed a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people. He was later shot dead by Italian police after he fled Germany.


Sanofi offers 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus fight

Updated 47 min 41 sec ago

Sanofi offers 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus fight

  • Proposals to put hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to use immediately for more patients have proven highly controversial

PARIS: French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi said Friday it would offer 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine, a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, to governments worldwide if studies show it can safely to be used to treat COVID-19 patients.
Both hydroxychloroquine, which Sanofi sells under the brand name Plaquenil, and the related compound chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, are being studied worldwide as potential weapons in the coronavirus fight.
But proposals to put them to use immediately for more patients have proven highly controversial, with many experts warning there is not yet enough evidence of their safety or effectiveness against COVID-19.
A French doctor in particular, Didier Raoult, has raised hopes by treating patients with a combination of hydroxychloroquine (HQC) and the antibiotic azithromycin, an initiative that many health officials refuse to endorse in the absence of more rigorous studies.
On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron met Raoult and his team in Marseille to discuss their latest findings, though the president did not comment publicly on the meeting afterward.
Sanofi acknowledged that “interpretations of the available preliminary data on hydroxychloroquine in the management of COVID-19 differ widely.
“While hydroxychloroquine is generating a lot of hope for patients around the world, it should be remembered that there are no results from ongoing studies, and the results may be positive or negative.”
But chief executive Paul Hudson said in a statement, “If the trials prove positive, we hope our donation will play a critical role for patients.”
Other companies have also pledged to offer the drugs, with Switzerland’s Novartis proposing 130 million doses of chloroquine, and Israeli generic producer Teva promising 10 million doses of HQC for US hospitals.
Sanofi is also working on a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus, which has killed more than 94,000 people worldwide since cases were first reported in China last December.