Three dead as coach collides with JCB

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The Independent Online

Three people died and 50 were injured yesterday when a coach carrying elderly and disabled people collided with a JCB and crashed into a ditch in North Yorkshire.

The accident took place during rush hour yesterday evening on the A65 between Settle and Giggleswick. The 54-seater coach, owned by Safari Travel, was taking passengers on a day trip from Newcastle upon Tyne.

According to early police reports the coach hit the back of the JCB and the impact of the collision caused both vehicles to plunge into a ditch at the side of the road. It was not known if the coach was fitted with seatbelts.

At least 40 people were taken to Airedale General Hospital at Settle yesterday evening suffering from shock and minor injuries. At least one woman was described last night as "critical". The driver, from the North- east, was also said to have suffered serious injuries.

A hospital spokesman said: "It was a bad smash - and there were serious injuries, perhaps made worse by the fact some of the injured were pensioners."

Emergency services were still trying to cut one injured passenger out of the wreckage yesterday evening. The bodies of the dead, who died at the scene, were released by firefighters.

A village hall close to the scene of the accident was opened and residents living near by helped to calm the remaining survivors, many of whom suffered cuts and bruises.