Britain's worst traffic accident

2011-11-06 09:25

kalahari.com

Taunton - At least seven people died in one of Britain's worst ever motorway pile-ups, police said on Saturday, as investigators probed the cause of the crash which triggered a huge fireball.

Footage taken at the scene showed motorists risking their own lives amid the flames to prise open vehicle doors and rescue people trapped inside.

The 34-vehicle crash in foggy and wet conditions on the M5 motorway near Taunton in southwest England sparked explosions and an inferno, reducing vehicles to cinders and leaving twisted, fire-blackened metal scattered across the carriageway.

Emergency services said 51 people had been injured and warned the death toll was likely to rise.

Witnesses described hellish scenes, with multiple explosions and towering flames sending a pall of acrid smoke over the motorway.

Avoided the carnage

"We could hear people screaming in their cars. It was utter carnage," said motorist Thomas Hamell, 25, who narrowly avoided the carnage as he came to an abrupt halt next to a jack-knifed lorry at the edge of the crash site.

"We sat there and heard the thud of cars, one after another, hitting each other and thought we would be next."

As a search of the burnt-out vehicles continued, a large section of the route through England's southwest was set to remain closed in both directions until Sunday, causing long delays for motorists.

Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham of the Avon and Somerset Constabulary told reporters: "Sadly I can now confirm that we believe we've had at least seven people die as a result of this incident.

"I am also able to confirm that we've got 51 casualties. Many of those have gone to hospital."

Injuries

He said 34 vehicles were involved in the accident on Friday evening, "many of which are burnt - and burnt literally to the ground."

While casualties have been taken to two nearby hospitals and some treated at the scene, Bangham said others might still be trapped.

Edmund King, president of the Automobile Association, said it was Britain's worst traffic accident in two decades, the last comparable incident being a 51-car crash on the M4 motorway in March 1991 in which 10 people died.

Hospitals said the injuries ranged from simple limb fractures to more complex chest and abdominal trauma.

Bangham said detectives would be examining the possible factors involved, including the darkness, fog and groundwater, plus a fireworks display close to the three-lane road.

"All we could hear was the sound of a horn and then the flames got so high so quickly and the noise was horrific," said Bev Davis, who saw the pile-up from her home close to the motorway.

"There must have been 200m worth of fire - plumes of smoke were going up and everything was red."

Motorist Paul O'Connor told Sky News television: "It was quite horrific and I have never seen anything like that - I could see people lying on the side of the road."

But tales of bravery also emerged amid the horror. Hamell said that he had managed to carry a baby to safety as chaos raged around him.

The teacher described how he and his two travelling companions managed to get safely out of their car at the edge of the accident and help a mother and her young baby, whose car was severely damaged in the carnage.

"We were incredibly lucky. The woman who gave her child, her car was wiped out," he said.

Read more on:    uk
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
10 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

The rich will pay - Mpofu

The EFF in Gauteng will focus all its energy on improving the lives of the poor, the party's premier candidate Dali Mpofu says.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Watch what happened when we blindfolded Helen Zille and asked her to eat random things
13 days to elections - news you need to know
11 Julius Malema quotes you'll never forget
DA won't get 30% - Zille
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Century City - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Ratanga Road Southbound
    ROADWORKS - lane closure between Ocean Spirit Avenue and Century Boulevard (until mid April)
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Spine Road
    ROAD CLOSED between Weltevreden Drive and Seafarer Drive due to roadworks (until mid April)
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Mother’s Day special offers!

Spoil mom with these awesome specials that will warm her heart. Shop now!

Twisp – the smoking alternative

Buy any 2 refills for R250 and save R149. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Mother’s Day specials on appliances

Browse our range of Mother’s Day appliances to spoil and pamper mom. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia E7

Your mobile office Real-time emails with Mail for Exchange. Easy access to...

From R3499.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Treat yourself to something beautiful. You tend to put so much energy in making everything around you work harmoniously, and...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.