Flinders Street crash: alleged driver charged with 18 counts of attempted murder

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A white sport utility vehicle drove into a busy downtown intersection packed with pedestrians in the Australian city of Melbourne, injuring at least 19 people, some critically, and raising fears of a terrorist attack.

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The driver of a auto which plowed into Christmas shoppers in Melbourne Thursday had a history of drug use and mental health issues, police said.

Police arrested the driver, who was known to police for a history of illicit drug use, family violence and mental health problems. 'We don't believe he was involved in this matter at all.

Seven of the 19 people admitted to the hospital were discharged overnight.

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Officers can be be seen checking his pulse, and trying to revive him as they turn him onto his back by slapping his face. He said he turned around saw "people literally getting thrown into the air as it hit them". "It was chaos everywhere you looked". It was just one after the other, ' another told the Herald Sun. "It was just one after the other".

The charges follow Thursday's incident where it is alleged a 4WD struck a number of pedestrians at the intersection of Flinders and Elizabeth Street.

Describing the moment the auto ploughed into pedestrians, he said: "He has gone straight through the red light at pace and it was bang, bang, bang".

A witness told radio station 3AW that she heard screams and saw "people flying everywhere".

The England cricket squad, who are in Melbourne for the Boxing Day Ashes Test, also tweeted: "Following the Flinders Street incident in Melbourne, all England players and management have been accounted for and are safe". We were very, very busy in the whole area.

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Police say the accused man came to Australia via a refugee program in 2004. "If you look at the circumstances, where people have been mowed down by this person in the auto, that is a very serious circumstance".

The streets outside the city's iconic Flinders Street railway station were crowded with Christmas shoppers late on Thursday afternoon when a white Suzuki SUV ran a red light and sped up to slam into pedestrians crossing the road before crashing into a traffic barrier. He has pleaded not guilty to six counts of murder.

"What has occurred on Flinders Street was an act of evil and act of cowardice at a time of year when people should be out celebrating and doing their Christmas shopping", Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria state, told a news conference.

Police and emergency services attend to the scene of an incident involving a vehicle on Flinders Street, as seen from Swanson Street, in Melbourne, Australia December 21, 2017.

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