The lorry (right) crashed down the bank onto the barbecue area. / E.P.

Six dead and seven injured after Spanish-registered lorry crashes into barbecue party in the Netherlands

The driver, who was immediately arrested by police, tested negative for alcohol and the company says it seems he had swerved to avoid a van and the vehicle crashed down an embankment onto the group of people below

DIANA MARTÍNEZ Madrid

Six people were killed and at least seven injured in the Dutch village of Zuidzijde, about 30 kilometres from Rotterdam, at the weekend, when a Spanish-plated lorry fell down a bank and hit a group of people who were having a barbecue.

The driver, a 46-year-old Spanish national who works for El Mosca haulage company in Murcia, was immediately arrested and the vehicle seized while checks are carried out. The driver was breathalysed but tested negative for alcohol.

The accident occurred about 6pm on Saturday, while a group of people were at a barbecue organised by a local skating club. Those who died were three women aged 28, 32 and 75 and three men aged 41, 50 and 62. Three were from the same family and one of the women was eight months pregnant.

"Swerved to avoid a van"

The haulage company told a Spanish newspaper that the driver went off the road when he swerved to avoid a van, saying it was presumably the van that had caused the accident. The lorry crashed down the bank onto the group of people below.

The company said this was a terrible accident; it is trying to gather information and was in contact with the Dutch authorities to offer any help it can. It also sent a message expressing its deepest condolences to the victims, and support for the lorry driver and his family who, it said, are experiencing a very difficult situation at the moment.