'It is truly miraculous no one was killed': 130 vehicles, 200 hurt, a nine-hour delay - the mother of all rush-hour pile-ups at Kent's Sheppey Crossing
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Thursday 05 September 2013
It was “truly miraculous” that a series of accidents involving some 130 cars on a fog-shrouded bridge did not result in deaths, police said today.
Witnesses described drivers travelling at high speed without headlights on as they crossed the four-lane A249 bridge from the Isle of Sheppey to the Kent mainland prior to the pile up, which is believed to be the largest in Britain to take place in fog.
Eight of those hurt in the collisions, which took place at about 7.15am, have serious injuries.
Ambulance crews said 33 casualties needed hospital treatment in what were described as “horrendous scenes”. A further 200 people were either triaged by paramedics or given advice should symptoms develop later.
There were reports that the crashes continued for up to 10 minutes and further collisions were prevented by the quick thinking of a lorry driver who parked his lorry across a roundabout to stop further vehicles driving on to the crossing.
A man walks past the remains of a car involved in a major traffic accident on the A249 Sheppey crossing bridge in Kent
Chief Inspector Andy Reeves, from Kent Police, said: “From my perspective, it’s truly miraculous. It’s very fortunate there were no fatalities. Visibility was very bad, down to 25 metres in thick fog, and clearly it will be a key factor in our considerations. But at this stage we haven’t yet determined what caused the start of the crash.”
Drivers described being able to see no further than two or three car lengths ahead prior to the crashes, which left a trail of buckled vehicles stretching for several hundred metres, including cars thrown on top of each other and others flipped on to their roofs.
A view of the pile up in Sheppey involving 100 cars
Firefighters had to free six people from their vehicles.
Driver Martin Stammers, from Minster, Kent, said: “I’ve never seen anything like it. All you could hear was cars crashing. We got out of our car and it was eerily quiet.”
The scene on the London bound carriageway of the Sheppey Bridge
The driver of a damaged van, who declined to give his name, said: “It was so foggy, you couldn’t see anything in front of you. By the time there was a problem, it was too late. The bridge shouldn’t have been open.”
A recovery worker straps the wreckage of a vehicle onto a tow truck
The crossing, which opened in 2006, does not have lighting.
Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson said he had previously had concerns this and said he would be asking questions of the authorities about the accident.
Scene on the Sheppey Bridge this morning after 100 vehicle pile up in thick fog
The crossing was closed for more than nine hours and reopened at 5.30pm.
The scene on the London bound carriageway of the Sheppey Bridge Crossing near Sheerness in Kent following a multi vehicle collision earlier this morning
filmFilm producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
sportNapoli 2 Arsenal 0: Gunners must now face either Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona in knock-out stages
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
musicThe 21-year-old beat Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl to win the honour
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
techLuke Blackall reports on precision engineered prams and babygros that monitor your child 24-7
Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
David Cameron explains selfie with Obama and Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Mandela Memorial
French café starts charging extra to rude customers
Krokodil in Mexico? Teenager hospitalised after 'injecting drug into her genitals'
Australia incest case: Filthy and severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Is Facebook making us forget? Study shows that taking pictures ruin memories
- 5 Australia incest case: Filthy and severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
£77099.84 - £96375.26 per annum + Bonus + Benefits : Harrington Starr: My clie...
£45000 - £60000 per annum + Bonus and Package: Harrington Starr: Trading appli...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Developer (Win...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior QA Engineer Tes...