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CARNAGE IN THE FOG; THREE DIE AND 62 HURT IN INFERNO AS 100 VEHICLES CRASH IN TRAGIC RUSH HOUR MADNESS.

Stunned survivors of yesterday's M42 double pile-up told last night of scenes from hell as 100 vehicles ploughed into each other in early morning fog, sparking a raging inferno.

Still dazed and shaken, they described cars colliding "like dominoes" and vehicles flying through the air before crushing others beneath. One said the explosive noise of crashing and nightmare vision of flaming vehicles and bloodied injured was "like a Bosnian war zone."

At least three people died and 62 were hurt, seven seriously, in the disaster. Last night, as rescue services combed the appalling litter of burnt out wrecks fearing they might find more bodies, two survivors were in intensive care.

Condemning drivers for speeding in lethal conditions, emergency services said: "This was an unnecessary tragedy."

The madness began at 6.45am when 60 vehicles careered into each other on the southbound carriageway of the M42 near Alvechurch, Hereford and Worcester, after a series of smaller shunts.

At least 15 vehicles, including two lorries and a benzine tanker, exploded into flames. The heat was so intense part of the road melted.

Twenty minutes later, more than 30 vehicles - including at least six HGVs - piled up on the northbound carriageway as rubber-necking drivers gawped at the devastation.

Seven more vehicles burned to their shells.

As the vehicles helplessly careered into each other, they were crushed in concertinas of twisted metal. More than 30 drivers had to be cut free. Wreckage was strewn across all six lanes for 400 yards.

Five flying doctors treated some of the the injured at the scene. Paramedics in 25 ambulances ferried the worst hurt to three hospitals. Twenty-two were admitted. Two suffered crushed chests.

Among the dead were married postman Malcolm Macdonald, 53, of Redditch, Worcs, and student Lisa Dodson, 21, of Chaddesley Corbett, Worcs. The third fatality, cut from a charred car, has not been identified.

Driver David Hills, 41, said: "Cars were just smashing into one another and going underneath lorries.

"There was a white Peugeot with a lady inside. She didn't get out. It was flattened. I was watching people slam into one another at 60mph."

Ann Gaskell, 34, of Kew, South West London, fled her car seconds before it exploded.

She said: "A car behind me smashed into me. Then one on my left hit me. I managed to get out of the driver's door. I can remember sitting there and screaming as a van went over my roof. For the next 10 minutes I watched as crashes continued for what seemed like an eternity. There were little children screaming and dodging between the cars."

Motorist Mark Bollery, from Tenby, South Wales, said: "You could hear this bang, bang, bang of cars crashing all the way up the road. It was like something out of Bosnia."

Gas fire fitter Greg Dutton, from Huntingdon, Cambs, said: "Vehicles were going up in the air and falling on cars beneath them."

Tim Birkin, 36, of Rugeley, Staffs, said: "I was doing about 70mph. The fog was quite bad but I thought the visibility was good enough for my speed.

"Then I came across a wall of stationary traffic. A lorry smashed into my side and a fireball engulfed my car. The scene was like a scrapyard."

A police Range Rover was caught up in the carnage. Two officers were slightly hurt.

Last night, a fire officer said: "Driving to the scene, there were cars overtaking me at more than 70mph in only 50 metres visibility. It was disgusting behaviour."

A policeman added: "Accidents stem from excessive speed, ignoring conditions and lack of attention - today, we had all three in spades."

The pile-up led to massive queues on the neighbouring M5. On the fogbound A1M in South Yorkshire 30 vehicles collided in five incidents.

DEVASTATION

This was the appalling litter of burnt out cars and lorries yesterday after 100 vehicles ploughed into each other in the double pile-up on the fog-shrouded M42. Last night, as emergency services branded speeding drivers as reckless, three people lay dead.

FIREBALL HELL

Vehicles aflame in the early morning gloom - shocked survivors told yesterday of cars flying through the air before crushing those beneath them and described how the chilling noise of impact after impact went on for "what seemed like an eternity"
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Article Details
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Author:Chaytor, Rod; Miller, Ian
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 11, 1997
Words:711
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