Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

YORKSHIRE TRAIN DISASTER; Car Plunges into Path of Express

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

YORKSHIRE TRAIN DISASTER; Car Plunges into Path of Express

Article excerpt

AT LEAST 13 people were killed and 76 injured today when a London-bound train was derailed by a Land Rover and trailer which tumbled on the track.

Rescue workers fear the number of dead could rise when heavy equipment arrives to prise open one, as yet unsearched, carriage squashed to a height of only two feet.

Around 100 people were on board the Newcastle to King's Cross express.

Nine of the injured are in a critical or serious condition, with injuries including crushed spines and chests and multiple fractures. The driver of the passenger train is among the seriously hurt.

The disaster happened at Great Heck near Selby, North Yorkshire, at 6.12am when the Land Rover, towing a Renault, suffered a blow-out on the M62. The vehicles careered off a motorway bridge and blocked the East Coast main line track.

According to a Railtrack spokesman the driver, travelling at 125mph, saw the vehicle on the track but was unable to stop. The spokesman said the impact knocked the train off the rails but it continued to travel upright for half a mile until it was met head-on by a freight train carrying 1,000 tonnes of coal, travelling at 75mph. The freight train driver realised the danger but could not prevent the collision.

"This seems to have been a tragic accident with appalling consequences," the spokesman added. "The damage to the passenger train is horrendous and the casualties extremely heavy. It is a scene of absolute devastation. Carriages have been overturned, they have gone down the embankment and into a field."

He said the Land Rover driver appeared to have walked away virtually unhurt and dialled 999, shouting: "The train's coming!" to the operator.

"He tried to warn the oncoming train but could do nothing to prevent the impact," the spokesman added.

The 36-year-old Lincolnshire man watched helplessly as the express ploughed through his vehicle and trailer.

He had been delivering a car from Lincolnshire to Wigan when the tragedy happened. He was taken to a police station in East Yorkshire for questioning but this afternoon was still too distressed to make a statement. A police spokesman said: "He's not in a very fit state. He is incapable of talking at the moment."

Trauma teams from hospitals in York, Hull, Leeds and Pontefract went to the scene as fire crews using cutting gear attempted to free passengers.

Firefighters reported that desperate knocking was heard from one twisted carriage. "We are concentrating on rescuing these people. It's a chaotic scene," a Humberside Fire Brigade spokesman said. "On the Inter-City Express all 10 carriages are involved, four seriously. Our crews are still searching all the carriages for casualties. It is an extremely serious situation."

Assistant divisional officer Graham Buckle, from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "This is the worst scene I have come across in 14 years with the fire service. …

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