A police spokesperson confirmed the arrest and said the truck’s co-driver died during the crash.
According to Polish media reports, the truck had a Polish numberplate and was registered to a Polish company. The company’s owner, Ariel Żurawski, was quoted on television as saying he had the utmost confidence in the driver, who he says is his cousin. The driver’s wife reportedly lost contact with him during the afternoon ahead of the crash.
“The person who jumped out of the truck, it’s not my driver,” Żurawski told Polish news channel TVN24.
“The driver told me only that he was stationed in front of the company. Our conversation ended on this.”
TVN24 reports the truck was on its way from Italy and was supposed to be unloaded in Berlin on Tuesday morning at 8am. It claims this means the vehicle was fully loaded, with some 20 tonnes of steel.
It is not clear why the vehicle veered off the road into the market.
However, Wolfgang Bosbach, an MP with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, told the press:
“Although there is a host of unanswered questions, indications are it was a deliberate attack, carried out not just with the greatest brutality and disastrous consequences, but also with deliberate symbolism.
“Just a few days before Christmas, in the middle of the German capital and amidst happy, peaceful people. The message is clear: no matter where, no matter how, we can pounce at any time.”
Police are urging local residents to remain at home.
The Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, said:
“What we’re seeing here is dramatic and a shock to us all. We hope that our fears that this is an attack won’t prove true. Our thoughts are with the families of the injured and dead.”
A government spokesperson confirmed Merkel is being briefed on the situation by Müller and the Interior Minister, Thomas de Maiziere.
German police have tweeted that there are currently no indications of further dangerous situations near the Berlin square.
The incident occurred in the west of the city, on Breitscheidplatz, which is one of Berlin’s busiest shopping areas.
Eyewitnesses report hearing a loud noise, before chaos ensued.
It evokes memories of the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France, in July this year, when a Tunisian-born man drove a truck into crowds who had been watching a firework display on the beach front. Eighty-six people were killed in that incident, which was claimed by the ISIL militant group.
The market in Berlin has since been cleared of people. A police spokesperson initially expressed fears the crash could have caused a gas leak.