Car Plunges into Express Path; YORKSHIRE TRAIN DISASTER

By Adamson, Colin; Benham, Mark et al. | The Evening Standard (London, England), February 28, 2001 | Go to article overview

Car Plunges into Express Path; YORKSHIRE TRAIN DISASTER


Adamson, Colin, Benham, Mark, Gusmaroli, Danielle, Harris, Ed, Murray, Dick, Ramsay, Allan, Sturgis, John, Wallace, Sam, Hind, Graham, Key, Ian, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: COLIN ADAMSON;MARK BENHAM;DANIELLE GUSMAROLI;ED HARRIS;DICK MURRAY;ALLAN RAMSAY;JOHN STURGIS;SAM WALLACE;GRAHAM HIND;IAN KEY

AT LEAST 20 people are feared dead and up to 100 injured today after a London-bound main line train was derailed by a Land Rover and trailer which had tumbled on the track.

Thirteen bodies have been recovered from the scene, but thermal images reveal more dead passengers are still trapped in the tangled wreckage. At least 30 of the injured are said to be in a critical condition.

The disaster happened at Great Heck near Selby, North Yorkshire, at 6.12am when the Land Rover, which was carrying 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 Railtrack, the driver of the crowded Newcastle to King's Cross express, which had been travelling at 125mph, had reportedly spotted the vehicle on the track but had been unable to stop in time.

The spokesman said the impact knocked the train off the rails but it continued to travel upright for about half a mile until it was met head on by a freight train loaded with 1,000 tonnes of coal was travelling at 75mph in the opposite direction. The freight train driver spotted the danger but could not prevent the catastrophic collision.

"This seems to have been a tragic accident which has had appalling consequences. The damage to the passenger train is horrendous and the casualties are extremely heavy," the spokesman added.

"It is a scene of absolute devastation. Carriages have been overturned, they have gone down the embankment and into the field near the track.

Incredibly, the Land Rover driver appears to have walked away virtually unhurt and was making a frantic 999 call as the tragedy unfolded, shouting: "The train's coming!" to the operator.

"He got out and tried to warn the oncoming train but could do nothing to prevent the impact," the Railtrack spokesman said.

The man, who is now being interviewed by police, could only watch helplessly in the next desperate seconds as the express ploughed through his car and trailer before coming off the tracks.

The carnage that resulted shocked even the most hardened rescue workers as a major emergency operation swung into action.

Survivors led shaking from the scene to fleets of waiting ambulances told of the horror. One said: "I was alright but a woman sitting opposite me was thrown through the air. We spun round and came to a stop. Further down the carriage one passenger was covered in blood."

Rescue teams arriving at the disaster site reported appalling carnage.

Trauma teams from hospitals in York, Hull, Leeds, and Pontefract have been sent to the scene, while firefighters using cutting gear are still attempting to free trapped passengers.

Firefighters reported that the sound of desperate knocking was heard from within one twisted carriage. "We are concentrating on rescuing these people.

It's a chaotic scene," a Humberside Fire Brigade spokesman said.

"On the Intercity Express all ten carriages are involved in some way or another, four of them seriously. Our crews are still searching all the carriages for casualties.

It is an extremely serious situation. A triage station has been set up on an adjacent farm to clear the casualties."

An ambulance spokeswoman said: "We need to stabilise casualties first because of the serious nature of the injuries. There are some pretty nasty wounds as the train was travelling at high speed when it crashed. There are many trapped in carriages."

The crash area was shrouded in driving sleet and snow and conditions were described as atrocious.

Rescue teams worked in an eery silence, broken only by the shrill, ring of victims' unanswered mobile phones. Two members of the clergy were comforting the injured and delivering last rites. …

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