Victims of Berlin attack: 12 dead, some to still be identified

Of 48 injured, 12 in hospital with serious injuries, including one in medically induced coma

Several of the victims of Monday's truck attack in Berlin have yet to be formally identified, German officials have said, and 16 survivors remain in hospital with "very serious" injuries.

Twelve people were killed, including the truck’s registered driver, Lukasz Urban, who was found dead inside the truck’s cabin. The 37-year-old Polish national had been shot and stabbed, and German investigators suggest he may have struggled with the hijacker until the very last moment.

Citing anonymous investigators, the German tabloid Bild reported that Mr Urban was shot after the vehicle came to a standstill on Breitscheidplatz.

One of those injured in the attack was Iñaki Ellakuria (21), an Erasmus exchange student from the Basque town of Bilbao. He had been visiting the Christmas market with a couple of friends.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Ellakuria said a black truck had smashed into the market’s wooden booths and “rolled over everything. It rolled over me and both my legs.”

He said that the pain was unbearable, the worst he had experienced. Other people helped him as he lay shivering on the ground. The attack left him with a broken tibia and fibia, a broken ankle and a broken hip.

Called father

Mr Ellakuria was recovering in Berlin's Wenckebach clinic after undergoing several operations. His father, Juan José, told Spain's El País newspaper that the procedures had gone well. Mr Ellakuria had called him 20 minutes after the attack, the father said, and he and his wife had flown to Berlin on Tuesday morning to be at the son's bedside.

Mr Ellakuria thanked all of those who had come to his aid bringing “cushions, water, food, jackets, hats and scarves”. Their behaviour was exemplary, he said, adding: “I’m doing well thanks to the huge amount of medicines that they have put into my veins.”

Germany's president, Joachim Gauck, visited four of the injured at a clinic in north Berlin on Wednesday. "The people should know that they're not alone," he said after the visit. "I reminded them of the strength they each possess within them."

He said he had been particularly moved by his encounter with a man “who was injured because he came to the aid of others”. The man had been hit on the spine by a wooden beam and badly injured as he helped pull others from the wreckage of fallen market stalls after the crash.

The interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, said there were no children among the 12 dead, but very probably youths and foreigners. Six of the dead are believed to have been officially identified.

The remaining six are thought to include an Italian national, Fabrizia Di Lorenzo (31), who had lived and worked in Berlin for several years. Her relatives raised the alarm on Tuesday morning when she failed to turn up to work at a logistics company. Her mobile phone and metro pass were found at the scene of the attack.

Family members flew to Berlin to give DNA samples in order to identify her. Her father, Gaetano, told the Ansa news agency: “From what my son tells me from Berlin, there can’t be any more doubt . . . We’re waiting for confirmation, but I have no illusions.”

Assume the worst

German newspapers published details of other victims. Among them was a woman from Neuss, in North-Rhine-Westphalia, who had visited the market with her 40-year-old son. He survived with serious injuries and is being treated in hospital. “We have to assume the worst,” he told his local newspaper, adding: “I saw what happened to her.”

The son said visiting Berlin with his mother was a pre-Christmas tradition; they had made the trip three times. They were due to go home on Tuesday, he said, but decided to drop in at the market for a final drink. He heard a sound like fireworks going off, “which suddenly got closer. I was dragged completely through the [wooden] stalls.”

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that an Israeli citizen had been missing in Berlin since Monday evening. Dalia Elkayam had been at the market with her husband, Rami. He survived the attack and was recovering in hospital after two operations. The newspaper quoted Israel's ambassador to Berlin as saying it could not be ruled out that Ms Elkayam had died.

Germany's Tagesspiegel newspaper spoke to René Köchel, who had worked on one of the stalls at the market since the 1990s. Speaking on someone else's mobile – his was under the rubble – Mr Köchel said he had just served mulled wine to a couple of customers when "the lorry came down upon us".

“I and a colleague jumped to the side. Then I saw the lorry’s wheels.” Mr Köchel said he fell over and his mulled wine stand fell on top of him. “I was then able to crawl out,” he said.

He injured his leg and lost some blood; in hospital he received several transfusions. There he rang his relatives to tell them he was okay. “Of course my family were worried,” he said.

Details have emerged of the emergency response to the attack. Hospitals across Berlin triggered a catastrophe alarm, which sent automated messages to all medical consultants, registrars, surgeons, surgical nurses, intensive care staff and anaesthetists alerting them to the emergency and ordering them to get to their departments as soon as possible.

Common injuries

Many of the 48 injured were brought to the Virchow clinic of the Charité, Europe’s largest teaching hospital, which specialises in emergency medicine and has a trauma centre. The most common injuries among patients arriving there were broken legs and pelvises.

The priority for medical staff was to stop internal bleeding – the closer the injuries are to the torso, the more dangerous they are – and to stabilise bone and soft tissue injuries. By 11pm on Monday night, the most seriously injured patients had been stabilised.

Of the 16 patients still in a serious or life-threatening state on Wednesday, at least one had been put in a medically induced coma, a method often used to help ease pressure on the brain.

Dozens of people are being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder at a specialist unit at Berlin’s St Hedwig’s hospital. The hospital has extended its outpatient consulting hours to cope with increased demand.

Guardian service