NEWS
04/06/2015 15:39 BST | Updated 04/06/2016 06:12 BST

Alton Towers To Remain Closed

Alton Towers will stay closed again tomorrow as it racks up losses potentially worth millions of pounds following a horrific rollercoaster crash.

Sixteen people were injured, four seriously, when two carriages on the Smiler ride collided at the Staffordshire theme park.

The resort was shut to the public following the "major incident" at around 2pm on Tuesday.

Merlin Entertainments, which runs the resort, is believed to have lost just under £1.5 million in the three days since the collision - around £500,000 a day.

An Alton Towers spokeswoman confirmed a decision had been taken to keep the park closed tomorrow as Health and Saftey Executive (HSE) remain on site.

He added: "Anybody with pre-booked tickets for Alton Towers tomorrow will be able to visit Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures, Warwick Castle or Legoland Windsor as an alternative."

Meanwhile, a man and a woman who were seriously injured in the incident have been named as Daniel Thorpe, a 27-year-old hotel assistant manager from Buxton in Derbyshire, and Vicky Balch, 19, from Leyland in Lancashire.

Mr Thorpe, who is thought to be recovering at University Hospital Coventry, works at the Izaak Walton Hotel near Ashbourne, Derbyshire.

He had previously worked at the Bentley Brook Inn in Fenny Bentley.

Landlady Wendy Livingstone said: "He worked here two years ago. He was liked by the customers and staff and enjoyed sport. Of course it has been a shock to us."

Textile design student Joe Pugh, 18, and his girlfriend Leah Washington, 17, were also seriously hurt in the crash.

Mr Pugh tweeted that he had been "overwhelmed" by the support people had shown since the accident.

He said: "So overwhelmed with the response I've had from my accident at Alton Towers. Thank you for everyone's concern."

Ms Washington is said to have been given a blood transfusion and morphine before she passed out following the collision.

Witnesses said the ride had experienced technical difficulties earlier in the day, with some claiming that the empty cart involved in the crash had been on a test run when it came to stop.

Neil Craig, head of operations for HSE in the Midlands, said that a specialist team of inspectors were at the scene in Staffordshire making inquiries.

He added: "Our role is to establish the facts. We will want to determine that those responsible for operating this ride have done what the law requires. We will also ensure that if there are any lessons to be learned, they are shared as soon as possible.

"Although the investigation is in its early stages, we will take action to protect the public if we uncover evidence that could affect the safety of other rides at the park or elsewhere."

Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments, said the park could reopen only when the investigation had concluded but did not give a time-frame.

Writing in the Sun, he said: "At this point, I don't know if it was a technological or a human error. We want to know if this issue is isolated to The Smiler. We can't open again until we're sure."

Among those on board was Vanisha Singh, 29, who was in the second row of the carriage with her mother Chanda, 49, and her sister Meera, 26.

She told the Sun there had been "technical difficulties" moments before they embarked on the ride, as several test cars were sent ahead of them.

"We finally went up and were kept at the top for 10 or 15 minutes chatting, joking that we were the guinea pigs," she said.

Describing the crash, she added: "The metal safety bar smashed into our legs. There was loads of screaming. I felt a burning sensation in my pelvis, and back and neck pain.

"It was terrifying. There was blood all over the floor because it was pouring out of their legs in the carriage and dropping down. The doctors and firemen were covered in blood as they scaled the scaffolding to treat the guys on the front row."

The four people who suffered critical injuries were airlifted to major trauma centres after the 16 occupants were rescued from 25ft in the air at an angle of about 45 degrees.

Some of the occupants suffered an ordeal which lasted more than four hours, with the evacuation not complete until 6.35pm.

Since opening two years ago, the £18 million rollercoaster, which boasts a world-record 14 loops, has been closed twice because of safety concerns.