M5 crash police find no more bodies
- 6 November 2011
- From the section Somerset
No more bodies have been found at the scene of the crash on the M5 which killed seven people, police have said.
It had been feared the death toll from Friday evening's crash in Somerset could rise and emergency services had been searching for more victims.
But Avon and Somerset Police said on Sunday morning all vehicles had been removed from the site and their "worst fears have not been realised".
A stretch of the M5 is expected to stay closed for the rest of the weekend.
The 34-vehicle pile-up left 51 people injured.
About 1,000 people observed a minute's silence at the carnival statue at 12:00 GMT in the nearby town of Bridgwater on Sunday.
Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said: "Overnight all the vehicles involved in this tragic incident have been removed from the scene.
"Our worst fears have not been realised and the number of those that sadly lost their lives remains at seven.
"Extensive work has been carried out to identify those people and families are being appointed family liaison officers to support them.
"Formal identification has not taken place - this will happen in the coming days."
Samworth Brothers, which owns Cornwall-based pasty firm Ginsters, said two of its vehicles, a Ginsters and a Samworth lorry, were involved in the crash.
A spokesman for frozen food retailer Iceland confirmed one of the firm's lorries had also been involved.
The motorway is closed between junctions 24 and 25.
Police said the affected stretch would remain closed until 06:00 GMT on Monday.
Andrea Day, from travel information service Trafficlink, said she hoped the road would re-open in time for rush hour.
"At the moment, most people are staying away - it's a Sunday afternoon," she said.
"But our main concerns now are really focused on tomorrow morning.
"If the estimate of the closure goes on any longer than six o'clock tomorrow morning, it is going to have a significant impact on peak-time traffic tomorrow."
Officers are examining whether fog or smoke from a nearby bonfire and fireworks event may have been a factor in the crash, which happened at junction 25, near Taunton.
Four private ambulances left the site of the crash late on Saturday.
People concerned about relatives should call the emergency helpline on 0800 092 0410.
Officers said the pile-up, which happened on the northbound carriageway at about 20:30 GMT, had led to a "massive fireball" at the scene.
Investigators are looking into what caused the crash, which witnesses said happened as the road was wet and foggy in patches.
Witnesses described how smoke had been produced from a fireworks display at Taunton Rugby Club, near the motorway.
The club made no comment on the matter, but confirmed the display had taken place between 20:00 and 20:15 GMT on Friday.
Of the injured, 25 were taken to Yeovil District Hospital, 17 of the more seriously injured are being treated at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton and nine were treated at the scene.
Twenty-three of those taken to Yeovil have since been discharged.
Musgrove Park Hospital said four people had been discharged and 12 were still being treated.
Mr Bangham said: "Once the carriageway is clear, a large operation will take place to repair the road surface and clear fuel spillages."
He said the issue of whether nearby fireworks events were a factor in the crash was "certainly something we'll be looking at closely".
"There are a number of factors that came into play," he said. "It was dark, it was particularly poor weather... we had fog banks on the motorway and we also had wet surface issues.
"There were events going on in the evening and of course we need to have a very close look at what was going on in the area that may have caused some sort of distraction."
On Saturday, he described the crash scene as "horrific" and said the incident had been "very, very challenging" for emergency crews.
He also praised the bravery of members of the public who had tried to help others caught up in the crash.
"The intensity of the fire - it was a fireball on the carriageway - made it incredibly difficult for people to approach. People did their very best."
Police have not confirmed the age or sex of the people killed but Mr Bangham said four of the casualties had been in one vehicle.
'Thud of cars'
Witness Tom Hamill, 25, from Wells, Somerset, described how he helped a woman and her child to safety over the central reservation in the aftermath of the crash.
He said: "I clambered out of the car and the first thing I heard was a mother of a small 18-month-old baby shouting 'take my baby, take my baby - my husband's trapped inside the car.'
"So I took the baby and carried it over the central reservation."
Mr Hamill, who had been travelling with his father and girlfriend, said that at the time of the crash he slowed down and veered into the central reservation, which he thought had "saved our lives".
He added: "The thing that made me realise how bad it was, was you could hear the thud of cars hitting into lorries. One car overtook us going at about 60 or 70 miles an hour and just crashed straight into a lorry."
Transport Secretary Justine Greening said on Saturday it was too early to consider what measures could be taken to prevent similar accidents.
She paid tribute to emergency crews, saying there had been "real acts of heroism", and expressed her "deepest sympathies" with the affected families.
Hundreds of people have paid tribute to the dead and injured and their families on Facebook.