M5 Final Casualty Figures Confirmed As Investigations Into Pile-Up Continues

M5 Final Casualty Figures Confirmed As Investigations Into Pile-Up Continues

Avon and Somerset Police have confirmed the final casualty figures from Friday night's pile-up on the M5, with seven people killed and 51 people injured.

Fears that the death toll would rise further proved unfounded as the police announced on Sunday morning the final total. Meanwhile investigators are continuing to probe the possible causes of the crash, with a fireworks display taking place near the road at the time of the pile-up coming under scrutiny.

The Transport Secretary Justine Greening has said the government will also investigate the causes of the pile-up, which involved 34 vehicles and in which at least seven people are known to have died.

"Some people have said that the weather was particularly bad, but I think clearly what we need to do at the moment is focus on the NHS work that's happening to take care of the people who have been injured, but also getting the motorway back open again for the public as soon as possible. I think we'll have a debate about the policy issues in the coming weeks."

Meanwhile the motorway re-opened on Sunday evening after the police concluded their search of the scene.

Road safety charities including the Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents have said the crash shows that the government's plans to increase the speed limit on motorways to 80mph should be abandoned.

However Tory MP Margot James told Jeremy Vine on BBC One there shouldn't be a rush to judgement on the speed limit, saying: "We don't know fast people were driving. I don't think people were driving that fast anyway, from the reports I've heard from the people interviewed who survived the accident. So I'm not sure it was the speed that was causing the problem. The fog was obviously a problem, but we don't know yet."

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.


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