A video shows the taxi pull sharply out of line of stationary traffic and accelerate and mount the narrow pavement packed with pedestrians.
Moscow: A taxi drove into a crowd of pedestrians near Moscow’s Red Square on Saturday, injuring eight people including two Mexicans in the city for the soccer World Cup which Russia is hosting, officials and eyewitnesses said.
The incident took place as residents and visiting soccer fans thronged the centre of Moscow on a balmy summer evening, a short distance from the Kremlin.
Moscow’s traffic management authority said the taxi driver had a driver’s licence issued in Kyrgyzstan, a mainly Muslim ex-Soviet republic. The driver, in custody, told police he had not driven into the crowd on purpose, according to a footage published on the Moscow police website.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in a post on Twitter: “There was an unpleasant incident with a taxi. The driver lost control of the vehicle.”
The city’s police said they had opened a criminal investigation into a suspected violation of the traffic code.
The police said eight people were injured in the incident. Moscow city’s healthcare department said earlier that eight had been hurt and taken to the hospital, of whom seven were in a satisfactory condition, while one woman was seriously hurt.
The Mexican embassy in Moscow said two Mexican women had been lightly injured. Also among those hurt were a Ukrainian, two Russians and two citizens of Azerbaijan, Russia’s RIA news agency quoted a source in the emergency services as saying.
Video of the incident posted on social media showed the yellow Hyundai taxi pull sharply out of a line of stationary traffic, accelerate and mount the narrow pavement, which was packed with pedestrians.
The taxi drove for about 10 metres along the pavement, bowling over pedestrians and carrying some on the bonnet of the car. It came to a halt after hitting a traffic sign.
As bystanders tried to pull open the driver’s side door, the driver, dressed in black trousers and black T-shirt, jumped out and sprinted away. More bystanders chased him and could be seen trying to tackle him as the footage ended.
Mexico football match
A witness told Reuters that some of the people hit were wearing Mexican team colours. Mexico take on Germany on Sunday in their first World Cup match at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium, and thousands of Mexican fans are in the Russian capital.
A second witness told Reuters about the driver of the taxi: “He was pulled out of the vehicle, he ran off but bystanders apprehended him. He was shouting: ‘It wasn’t me’.”
Another witness, Viktoria Geraimovich, said she called emergency services on her mobile phone. She said the driver “ran into a group of Mexicans. There were shouts, moans. He was only stopped because he hit a traffic sign.”
“Someone gave him a punch in the face. He stayed in the car, people came up to him, said what are you doing, punched him in the face, he opened the door and tried to run away.”
“It’s scary that it was in the centre (of Moscow) and I was right opposite,” she said.
Moscow’s traffic management authority said the driver was not drunk and Interfax news agency cited a source saying there was no alcohol in his blood.
The driver said he wanted to brake but accidentally hit the accelerator instead, according to a video published by police.