Updated: 20/01/17 : 07:11:40
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World :: Three dead and many injured as car ploughs through Melbourne pedestrians

Three people have died and up to 20 are injured after a car deliberately struck pedestrians in central Melbourne, police say.

A man was arrested soon after and "the situation is now contained", police said.

The incident was not terror-related, said Victoria Police Acting Commander Stuart Bateson.

He said police believed the incident was linked to a stabbing in Melbourne's south-east early on Friday.

The car struck the pedestrians in the Bourke St Mall, a busy shopping area, just before 14:00 (03:00 GMT).

Footage broadcast on local media showed a maroon car driving in circles in front of nearby Flinders Street railway station.

Mr Bateson told reporters that police believe the driver "deliberately drove into the crowd".

Overturned pram

Former Victoria Police chief Christine Nixon said she saw an overturned pram at the scene. She told the ABC a woman approached her and asked where the child was.

"I don't know," Ms Nixon said. "The child is not in the pram."

Another witness told the BBC she saw pedestrians try to get out the way as the car mounted a footpath.

"It hit a few people there outside the offices and convenience store and sent them flying into the air, then kept driving," the witness said.

"It hit some more further up the path. I didn't know what was happening at first. People were screaming and there was a lot of sound and dust - I thought a building was coming down."

Another witness, Sharn Baylis, estimated the car was travelling at 60km/h (37 mph) "in a straight line".

"It was such an enclosed busy area," she told the ABC.

Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital confirmed it was treating 10 patients from the incident. St Vincent's Hospital said it was treating up to six patients.

The Australian Open tennis event, being played about 2km (1.2 miles) away, was unaffected, police said.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said he was standing outside Melbourne Town Hall when he saw the car drive "at speed" towards Bourke St Mall.

"It is very difficult to believe that these sorts of things can happen right in front of you in the middle of our city," he said in a video posted online.

"Spare a thought particularly for those families - the loved ones of those affected - and let's try and take care of each other."

Police asked people to avoid the city centre.