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Car incident at Wisconsin Christmas parade: what happened in Waukesha?

Five people are confirmed dead and many more injured after a car ploughed into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon.

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Car attack at Wisconsin Christmas parade: what happened in Waukesha?
MIKE DE SISTI/USA TODAY NETWORK via REUTERS

Officials in Waukesha, Wisconsin have confirmed that at least five people were killed and more than 40 were injured when a car ploughed through a Christmas parade on Sunday.

Local police chief Dan Thompson has confirmed that the red SUV hit dozens of people, including many children, who had gathered for the city’s annual Christmas parade. The attack took place at 16:40 local time and a suspect is now in custody.

CBS News have reported that the person arrested was fleeing from a separate incident when the vehicle smashed into the parade and a local official has confirmed that it is not currently being treated as a terrorist incident.

Local police have confirmed that one officer discharged a firearm in an attempt to stop the vehicle but that no one was struck by the shots. Contrary to some initial reports from the scene, there was no shooting attack in Waukesha.

Dozens of patients taken to nearby hospitals

The full extent of the tragedy will only truly become apparent in the days to come, but city officials have confirmed that at least five people have died. Dozens were taken to hospital from the scene but many more may have sought medical assistance separately.

A tweet from the city of Waukesha confirmed: "These numbers may change as we collect additional information. Many people have self-transported to area hospitals.”

Witnesses recount seeing people lying on the ground across much of the length of the crowded parade route, which took place on Waukesha’s Main Street in the city centre. On Sunday night Aurora Medical Center-Summit, a hospital in Waukesha County, confirmed that it is treating 13 patients, three of whom are in a critical condition.

In a statement released on Sunday evening, the hospital said: "We are deeply saddened by today's senseless tragedy and our hearts are with the Waukesha community.”

Some of the individuals were children and there are some fatalities as a result of this incident,” Waukesha police chief Dan Thompson told reporters. “We’re working with the families, that is our priority in this tragic incident.”

In the hours after the attack, Gov. Tony Evers tweeted to say that he and his wife Kathy are thinking of those affected by the tragedy. He added his thanks to “the first responders and folks who acted quickly to help.”