Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

GRIM SEARCH FOR THE DEAD; Eight Bodies Could Still Be Trapped in Crash Train Wreck

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

GRIM SEARCH FOR THE DEAD; Eight Bodies Could Still Be Trapped in Crash Train Wreck

Article excerpt


THE wreck of the Newcastle to King's Cross express was expected to give up more bodies today as specialist teams of firefighters moved in to cut it apart.

The teams are using metal cutting equipment to saw through the tangled wreckage of the coaches where at least eight bodies remain trapped. Heavy lifting gear is being brought in to move large sections.

With police and safety inspectors, they worked through the night to split carriages into sections and at first light began dismantling them piece by piece.

"This is the only way we can recover the bodies," Superintendent Tony Thompson of British Transport Police said. He added that it could take two weeks to clear the wreckage completely.

North Yorkshire Police spokesman Ron Johnson said he could not guarantee that further bodies would not be found beyond the 13 known dead.

"At the moment we have no indication to suggest there are further fatalities but it's not possible to confirm that until we get this job done," he said.

The bodies have been located but are entangled in crushed and twisted parts of the coaches, two of which became fused together by the impact. Rail officials estimate that the combined speed of the express and the goods train it struck head on was close to 180mph.

The express had been travelling at 125mph and although it was thought the driver braked, there was no time to significantly lower the speed.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott told the Commons last night that the crash happened through a chain of circumstances that defied belief.

Christopher Garnett, chief executive of the express operator GNER, said it was a "billion to one chance", but news he said he was also concerned that the accident had shown up a major flaw in the measures taken to protect railways from road traffic.

Roads cross rail lines at 589 sites across the country and the rules for erecting safety barriers make no distinction between high speed lines and rural tracks.

Mr Garnett said the Land Rover missed the safety barrier over the railway bridge by just a few metres and his officials were privately questioning whether the barriers extended far enough along the motorway to provide adequate protection. …

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