Three young men were killed when they were hit by a train at Loughborough junction in south London earlier today, British Transport Police have confirmed.
Police believe the men, who have not yet been formally identified, were aged 19, 23 and 23 and were all from the London area.
Speaking at the scene of the accident earlier on Monday, Superintendent Matthew Allingham said officers have identified one of the men and had “delivered the sad news” to his family.
Allingham said officers were still working to locate the families of the other two men.
“If you know who they are, please let us know,” BTP said, adding that all three victims are believed to be in their 20s.
Allingham did not comment on suggestions the men were graffiti artists and that spray cans were found at the scene, saying only that “our investigation is focusing on how and why the men came to be on the tracks in the early hours of this morning”.
He added: “It is far too early for us to comment on the reasons for them being there.”
BTP added in a statement after the press conference: “We are aware that there are a number of speculative comments about this on social media, but it is too early for us to comment on their reasons for being on the track.
“Whilst investigations continue, our focus is on supporting those bereaved families at this difficult time and gathering as much evidence as we can. That includes trawling through CCTV, talking to any witnesses and forensic investigations of the scene.”
The men were pronounced dead at the scene and police are treating their deaths as “unexplained”.
Officers were called to the junction, along with police and the London Ambulance Service, at 7.34am following a report that “multiple bodies” had been found.
The first call came from the driver of the train, Allingham said, adding that police are “still trying to identify the train that actually hit the individuals”.
“We know they were dead for a while before we turned up, it is a possibility that it was during the hours of darkness that’s why it wasn’t reported earlier,” he said.
“It is believed they died earlier in the morning and injuries are consistent with being hit by a train,” he added.
Regarding the spot where the men were found, Allingham said: “There isn’t a sort of safe refuge up there, so if somebody was on those tracks there wouldn’t be anywhere for them to go to avoid the train.
“As far as I understand it, if they’ve been caught in that section of track when a train came through then they really wouldn’t have had much options.”
The area is busy with freight trains carrying a lot of infrastructure during the night when the line is clear of passenger trains.
The Guardian said the accident is thought to have occurred at about 5am.
Several media reports said spray cans were found near the bodies, leading to claims the deceased might be graffiti artists.
The area is a popular place to tag and pictures have emerged showing authorities removing evidence bags from the scene containing spray cans.
Officers were also seen taking photographs of graffiti as part of their inquiry.
Tributes were paid to the victims on the instagram page for ukfrontline, an online hub for graffiti artists in the UK. One post said: “Deeply saddened by the news, condolences to friends and families. It’s not a game.”
A commenter said: “Don’t think I ever heard of so many writers being took out at the same time. Absolutely devastating news.”
Detective Superintendent Gary Richardson said earlier today: “My team are now working hard to understand what happened and how these three people came to lose their life on the railway.
“My thoughts are with the family and friends of these three people.
“At this time, we are treating their death as unexplained as we make a number of immediate enquiries. I would ask anyone who was near to Loughborough Junction this morning, and saw something which they think might be relevant, please contact us as soon as possible.”
BTP added after the press conference: “If you think you know the identity of these men, please get in touch.”
It also urged those sharing images and footage of the accident scene to do respectfully.
“We also ask that any images and footage being shared by the public keep in mind that three families have lost loved ones this morning – and that no graphic imagery is shared – at what is a terrible time for them all.”
Several Thameslink trains have been cancelled.
Loughborough Junction station remained open but BTP warned services would be delayed while the scene was investigated and urged commuters to contact National Rail for all inquiries.
The station, between Herne Hill and Elephant and Castle, is served by Thameslink, and platforms and tracks are above ground level.
The bodies are understood to have been discovered on the Catford Loop railway line, some metres from the station.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted his condolences to the families of the victims involved in the tragedy and urged anyone with information to contact BTP.
A Network Rail spokesman said it was assisting BTP and that Rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road has opened a preliminary investigation.
The best way is contact BTP is to phone 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016 with reference number 93 of 18 June.