M5 Crash: Several Killed And Dozens Injured By 'Fireball' Pile-Up In Somerset

Huffington Post UK   First Posted: 05/11/11 08:02 Updated: 05/11/11 09:32

M5 Fireball
M5 Crash: Emergency Staff Work To Clear The Pile-Up Which Has Already Claimed 'Several' Lives

Several people have been killed and dozens of others in a horrific pile-up on the M5 in Somerset, which triggered a "massive fireball".

Emergency workers have described the crash, involving around 27 vehicles, as "the worst road traffic collision anyone can remember." Avon and Somerset Police have confirmed "some" people have died and there are "a very high number" of casualties - as many as 35 people are reported to be injured.

The pile-up happened around 8.30pm on Friday night, when weather conditions were wet and foggy. According to police, a "number" of passengers perished when they were unable to escape from their burning cars.

Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham described the devastating crash as "very very challenging" for emergency workers.

"On arrival crews were faced with literally one massive fireball. Most vehicles were well alight and most continued to burn for a considerable time.

"This made it very difficult to search the vehicles. Some of them have been burned to the ground."

Around 15 fire engines were called to the scene and crew battled to save trapped motorists by cutting people from cars and lorries. Television footage shows members of the public trying to open car doors in an attempt to rescue those trapped.

The motorway, which is currently closed between junctions 25 and 24 northbound and southbound between junctions 23 and 25, is expected to remain shut for at least the next 24 hours while bodies are recovered from the accident.

Bangham added: "All emergency services are at the scene and are working tirelessly to attend to those who are injured or who are trapped in vehicles."

The pile-up is believed to be one of the UK's worst for 20 years. President of the AA Edmund King likened the horrific crash to one in 1991 on the M4 near Hungerford, Berkshire, which claimed 10 lives.

The police have launched an emergency number for members of the public to call if anyone is concerned a friend or relative may have been involved in the crash.

"Before you call this number please make all attempts to contact them via mobile phones or via friends, family or by any other usual measures", added Bangham.

Anyone worried about friends or family should call: 0800 092 0410.

More updates to follow shortly.

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