Police in Denmark say an American tourist was killed and four people were slightly injured when hit by a runaway electric vehicle on a Copenhagen pedestrian street.

Police spokeswoman Mette Lindskov says the small garbage collecting vehicle started rolling by itself after the driver had stepped out to empty a trash basket on Stroeget, the 50-year-old shopping artery that cuts through downtown Copenhagen.

Witnesses told Danish media the tourist, whose identity wasn't released, was hit by the vehicle and dragged for several yards.

She declined to comment on media reports that a short-circuit could have prompted the vehicle to start rolling.

Four other people sustained minor injuries Wednesday.