At least six were killed and 26 injured in an incident at the carnival in Strépy-Bracquegnies, near the former mining town of La Louvière.
A car slammed into carnival revelers at high speed in a small village in southern Belgium, killing six people and leaving 10 with life-threatening injuries.
Authorities have ruled out, for now, a terrorist motive behind Sunday’s incident.
“At this stage of the investigation, we know that a vehicle hit a group and that there are six dead and 26 injured, including 10 people whose lives are in danger,” prosecutor Damien Verheyen told reporters. at the town hall.
The tragedy occurred around 05:00 (04:00 GMT) as the carnival in Strépy-Bracquegnies, a village west of the former mining town of La Louvière, began.
The main suspects, born in 1988 and 1990, were arrested at the scene, Verheyen said, adding that the two were not known to authorities for similar offences.
In a centuries-old tradition, carnival revelers had gathered at dawn, intending to pick up others from their homes along the way, only to finally hold their famous party again after it had been banned for two years. to counter the spread of COVID-19.
It was supposed to be a day of deliverance, but instead, said La Louvière mayor Jacques Gobert, “what happened made it a national disaster”.
Belgian towns and villages host many street carnivals around the Catholic Church’s Lenten season, with the internationally best-known parades in Binche and Aalst.
Gobert said there were 150 to 200 people attending the carnival prologue before dawn and when they reached a road, “a car coming from behind at high speed literally pulverized a large number of people”.
Fabrice Collingnon, a Belgian television presenter, told AFP news agency that the procession was happily marching on when, in a “snap of the fingers, we went from entertainment and folklore to absolute horror”.
He added that the car appeared to be “deliberately entering the peloton”.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo lamented the “horrible news” on Twitter, saying “a community gathering to celebrate was touched to the heart”.