The Berlin News Agency has reported a major explosion in the city centre at the historical plaza of Alexanderplatz around 15.05 local time. At this point in time, German authorities are reporting around 700 casualties but this number cannot be confirmed due to the incendiary chaos surrounding the area. The blast is believed to have originated from the U-Bahn station which is directly underneath the square itself. The explosion also destroyed the historical department store Galeria Kaufhof, which has been an undisputed Berlin landmark since the beginning of the 20th century. The building was toppled by the blast and debris, and combined with smoke and a continuing inferno, the area is almost completely inaccessible to emergency services, which is only compounding the fatalities. Alexanderplatz was experiencing rush-hour traffic at the time, thus the maximum amount of people have been injured and the collateral damage has been colossal. The inferno spread in an extremely wide radius within the station, and the noise of the blast has been heard as far away as Unter den Linden. Reports from the area surrounding the scene suggest nothing less than carnage and the estimated number of dead is expected to rise due to the difficulties for access for authorities.
In a worrying turn of events, a number of flags of the Islamic State were reported to be at the scene of the explosion and it is believed they have taken responsibility for the attack as the first of many large-scale aggressive onslaughts against Europe.
Onlookers at the scene have so far described the situation as “near-apocalyptic”, and comparisons are already being made to 9/11 as a terrorist attack of such a massive scale. The fear and chaos in Berlin is palpable and the city is in a state of shock.
Newswire will work tirelessly to keep you updated on this tragic situation, as the death toll numbers seem to rise by the minute. Our thoughts and prayers are with Berlin.