Somerset

M5 crash: Firework organisers 'to work closely with police'

Family pic of Tony and Pam Adams
Image caption Tony and Pam Adams, from south Wales, were killed in the crash

Investigators of the M5 crash in which seven people died are treating a nearby fireworks display as a "major line of inquiry".

Two drivers working for Leicestershire-based Samworth Brothers, which owns pasty makers Ginsters, were killed in the crash and a third injured.

And Malcolm Beacham's wife, from Woolavington, Somerset, has confirmed that he was also killed.

Taunton Rugby Club, firework display organisers, are assisting police.

Tony and Pam Adams, who were in their 70s and from south Wales, were also killed, their family has confirmed.

There are also reports that a woman is in a coma after the crash that left her father and sister dead.

Taunton Deane Borough Council is meeting with police officers to talk through event licence requirements.

The leader of the council, John Williams, said he was awaiting formal advice but understood "at this moment in time" that there was no licence required for the fireworks display.

The rugby club said its thoughts and prayers were with the families of those affected by the accident.

Police have not established what caused the crash but said "a bank of smoke" had been across the M5 at the time.

The motorway has now reopened in both directions.

The 34-vehicle pile-up happened at junction 25, near Taunton, on Friday night.

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Media captionAnthony Bangham, Avon and Somerset Police: "We believe there was significant smoke"

Some 51 people were injured in the pile-up, which happened on the northbound carriageway. The motorway closed between junctions 24 and 25 after the crash, but reopened on Sunday night.

The rugby club said in a statement that, as a family based community club, it had held a fireworks display on Friday evening.

Avon and Somerset Police Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said his focus was the Friday night event and people who had attended the fireworks display would be interviewed by officers.

"Our main line of inquiry has now moved towards the event that was on the side of the carriageway," he said.

"We do believe that whilst there was fog and difficult conditions in the area, that actually from witness evidence there was very significant smoke across the carriageway that in effect caused a bank, similar to a fog bank, which was very distracting and very difficult to drive through.

"We will be doing everything we can to find out as quickly as we're able to what's behind that."

He added: "Accountability is clearly something we will look at when you've had an incident such as this."

Image caption Police said all the vehicles had been removed from the site

Mr Bangham said the major crime teams and collision investigators from the road policing unit were working on the investigation.

The first GP to arrive at the scene on Friday, Dr James Hickman, told the BBC: "I didn't know quite what to expect, I knew it was something quite big."

Dr Hickman volunteers for the Somerset Accident Voluntary Emergency Service and said the most striking thing was the fire.

He spent three hours at the scene and described his work as that of a "small cog in a whole machine" as the emergency services tried "to bring some order out of the chaos".

Police said a 40m (131ft) stretch of the carriageway had been damaged by fuel spillage and a 60m (197ft) stretch by "intense fire". All the vehicles involved in the crash have now been removed from the scene.

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.

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Media captionJames Hickman, the first doctor on the scene, said he saw a ''huge fire''

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.

Hundreds of people have paid tribute to the dead and injured and their families on Facebook.

The coroner for West Somerset, Michael Rose, said he planned to open inquests into the deaths of the seven victims of the crash on Thursday.

"I have requested three forensic pathologists to carry out post-mortem [tests] today on the seven victims of the tragic incident," he said.

In the nearby town of Bridgwater about 1,000 people observed a minute's silence at the carnival statue at 12:00 GMT on Sunday.

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