'It was horrific'; Irishman describes scene after van hits pedestrians in Toronto

An Irishman has described the scene of devastation after a van ploughed into pedestrians in Toronto.

Nine people are dead, while there are at 16 were seriously injured after the white van veered off the street onto the pavement.

David Maher, 24, from Ennis, Co Clare works on Yonge Street, where the incident took place and missed the attack by minutes.

He said: “We heard a lot of sirens and commotion coming from outside our office building just after we had come back from lunch.

“I stepped outside and saw two police cars just outside the building and there was a dead body lying in the gutter.

“You could see shoes, blood and lots of broken glass on the road. It was horrific.

Emergency services close Yonge Street in Toronto. Photo: Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP

“We had been sitting outside a cafe having lunch right next to where the van went onto the pavement about 10 minutes before it happened.

“It’s terrifying to think how close we could have come to being hit. It’s just awful for all of the people involved to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“My thoughts are with them and their families because I can’t imagine what they’re going through right now.

“It’s a really busy part of downtown and because it’s such a beautiful day I’m sure there were even more people out and about on the streets than usual.”

The incident happened near the busy intersection of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue around 1.30 p.m local time on Monday, according to the Toronto Police Service.

Police apprehended a suspect several blocks away and he was taken into custody.

Asked whether this was a terrorist act, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said: “We have no information on that at this point.”

David added: “You could see what looked like the van’s bumper in the middle of the street a bit further up and then dozens of police cars and paramedics.

“Police had cordoned off quite a bit of the area, but it was still pretty chaotic down there because a lot of people didn’t know what was going on.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted from Ottawa: "Our thoughts are with all those affected by the terrible incident at Yonge and Finch in Toronto."

"Thank you to the first responders working at the scene - we're monitoring the situation closely."

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