Five killed as army transporter jackknifes on M1

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The Independent Online

Five people were killed yesterday when a transporter returning tanks from the Iraq war crashed on the M1 during the morning rush hour.

Five people were killed yesterday when a transporter returning tanks from the Iraq war crashed on the M1 during the morning rush hour.

The carrierswerved to avoid a car, sending two Scimitar armoured vehicles crashing through the central reservation in Leicestershire, the Ministry of Defence said.

The transporter, carrying three eight-ton Scimitars, was driving from a military port in Hampshire to army barracks in Catterick, North Yorkshire. It also careered into the southbound carriageway between junctions 19 and 20, flattening a van and two cars. The crash, at 7.40am near the intersection with the M6, caused the closure of the motorway for the rest of the day. Police said they did not expect the road to reopen until this morning. Four people died either at the scene or soon afterwards. The fifth died in the afternoon after being airlifted from the scene to a Birmingham hospital. One person who was airlifted to the same hospital remained seriously ill last night. Four other people were being treated at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

An MoD spokesman said: "We believe the transporter, swerved to avoid a vehicle that was in front of it and then jackknifed. I think what would have happened was that the tanks it was carrying would have been catapulted on to the other side of the road."

Police closed the motorway between junctions 19 and 21, causing tailbacks across the East Midlands. Hundreds of cars were trapped on the closed part while emergency services rescued survivors and cleared wreckage. Traffic was diverted to other routes but the M6, M69 and A14 were all affected.The transporter trailer came to rest on a white van next to another wrecked car. Two other vehicles were wedged beneath the trailer. A lorry was skewed across the slow lane.

One buckled vehicle blocked two lanes. A white van lay in the middle lane facing the opposite direction. The caterpillar tracks of at least two Scimitarscould be seen in the crash wreckage.

* Two men were killed when a car plunged off a road on to a railway line, and was thought to have been struck a glancing blow by a train. The car went on to the line in Longbridge, Birmingham, at about 8.40pm. One man died at the scene and a second was pronounced dead in hospital. A boy between eight and ten is critically ill.

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