Two killed in light aircraft crash

Click to follow
The Independent Online

At least two people were killed when their light aircraft crashed into one of Britain's busiest railway lines today.

Police said they could not rule out finding more bodies in the wreckage of the single-engine plane that came down in Staffordshire at around noon.

The aircraft hit power lines above the West Coast Mainline, leading to massive disruption for thousands of rail passengers travelling between London and north-west England or Glasgow.

British Transport Police confirmed that two people were killed.

A spokesman added: "Examination of the scene will continue and a further fatality or fatalities cannot be ruled out at this stage."

The aircraft, believed to be a Piper Cherokee registered to a 59-year-old man from Walsall in the West Midlands, crashed on the edge of the village of Little Haywood.

Derek Higgott, 49, who lives in nearby Back Lane, described seeing it plummet to the ground "like a stunt plane".

He said: "I was working in my garden. We've got a raised gazebo so I was up on the steps.

"I heard the plane, I looked up, and suddenly it just turned and went straight down like a stunt plane.

"There was a huge thud and black smoke. You could feel the vibration from it and a huge flock of birds all took off."

Police, firefighters and paramedics rushed to the scene but there was nothing they could do to help the occupants of the aircraft.

All rail services on the West Coast Mainline between Rugby and Stafford remained suspended tonight.

British Transport Police warned that the line was unlikely to be fully repaired this weekend.

Rush hour services from London's Euston station to Liverpool Lime Street, Birmingham New Street and Glasgow Central were all cancelled this evening.

Tempers frayed among some passengers forced to endure long delays.

Michael Downes, 44, from Warrington, was among those waiting at Euston.

He said: "I was supposed to be home with my family by now instead I'm stuck here and don't know how long before I get back.

"I know it's an accident, it's nobody's fault, but where's the help? Yes, I think they could be doing more for us."

Virgin Trains diverted its services via Birmingham and Wolverhampton, adding up to 40 minutes to journey times.

The company said all tickets would be valid for travel with other train operators or could be used tomorrow.

Rail operator London Midland laid on replacement buses between Crewe and Rugby and between Wolverhampton and Crewe.

Post-mortem examinations of the two bodies recovered from the wreckage will take place on Sunday, police said.

Two inspectors from the Farnborough-based Air Accidents Investigation Branch travelled to the scene this afternoon to examine the cause of the crash.