Natural History Museum incident ‘not considered to be terror-related’

Armed police block Exhibition Road after a car mounted the pavement and collided with pedestrians outside the Natural History Museum. Picture: Getty
Armed police block Exhibition Road after a car mounted the pavement and collided with pedestrians outside the Natural History Museum. Picture: Getty
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A MINICAB driver sparked a major terror alert when his car ploughed into pedestrians in the heart of one of London’s busiest tourist areas, leaving 11 people injured.

People fled for their lives after the black Toyota Prius mounted the pavement close to the Natural History Museum (NHM) in South Kensington on Saturday afternoon.

Video footage posted on Twitter showed a man being restrained on the ground by members of the public after the incident in the heart of the capital’s museums district, an area popular with families with young children.

But Scotland Yard later confirmed the incident, which occurred shortly after 2.20pm, was “not being treated as a terror-related incident” and a man had been arrested over a traffic collision.

Those hurt were mostly suffering from head or leg injuries, the London Ambulance Service said, with nine taken to hospital. None were in a life-threatening condition.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “Whilst inquiries continue it is believed a car mounted the pavement and collided with a number of pedestrians.

The damaged vehicles on Exhibition Road, in between the Victoria and Albert (V&A) museum, and the Natural History Museum. Picture: Getty\Twitter user @StefanoSutter

The damaged vehicles on Exhibition Road, in between the Victoria and Albert (V&A) museum, and the Natural History Museum. Picture: Getty\Twitter user @StefanoSutter

“The man detained by officers is currently under arrest and is in custody at a north London police station.

“The incident is a road traffic investigation and not a terrorist-related incident.”

Pictures and footage from the scene in Exhibition Road showed street damage and a massive police presence in the upmarket area, home to the NHM, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).

Some showed the black Toyota Prius, registered with Transport for London (TfL) as a minicab, that had collided with a silver Vauxhall saloon and a Jaguar.

Sophie Parry and Lesley Guinness were on their way to the V&A’s Pink Floyd exhibition when they saw the driver of a black vehicle swerve across the road and hit a cyclist.

First aid-trained engineer Ms Parry, 56, said: “We saw a black mini SUV - it suddenly swerved across the road and it appeared to knock a cyclist off their bike, and the cyclist was sort of being carried along on the front of the vehicle across the road and then the black car hit another car - a silver Vauxhall - and it appeared to throw the cyclist off.

“By the time we came across the road two people were helping this person in the road and it looked like they were administering first aid or just comforting them.”

Ms Parry said she believed the cyclist was a man in his twenties, and did not appear to be wearing a crash helmet.

Both women said the front of the car was “pretty smashed up” and may have hit some nearby concrete bollards.

Ms Parry said: “I thought maybe someone might have had a heart attack behind the wheel.

“Because I thought, this is strange for a vehicle - it must have been going pretty slow there to career across and do all that damage.

“It’s odd, because any vehicle there was maybe going three, four, five, six miles an hour. So I thought maybe someone had had a heart attack or something.”

The friends said they saw people running away from the scene, after three “gunshot-like” bangs rang out a few seconds before the cyclist was struck.

Dieon Rurora, 25, who works in a nearby cafe, added: “People were running down the street, falling over. It was quite scary.”

Colleague Merilin Mueller, 20, added: “It just seemed like an accident because there was a police car. We couldn’t see outside.

“Then there were loads of police cars and that’s when all of these police came marching down saying, ‘move, move’.

“They said, ‘you need to evacuate’.”

Downing Street had said that Prime Minister Theresa May was being kept up to date with developments.

In a message later on Twitter, she said: “My thanks to the first responders at this incident this afternoon and the actions of members of the public. My thoughts are with the injured.”