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Croydon tram crash: 'Eerie' silence on the streets

Cordon around Crodon tram crash
Image caption As the sun rose over the scene of Wednesday's tram crash, the streets were silent

As the people of Croydon woke up the day after a fatal tram crash killed seven people on their doorstep, the shock was still setting in.

"Nobody could sleep last night," said Sharon Yerkess, who lives metres from the crash site. "Every time I tried, I kept thinking of the huge bang I heard or thinking about the screaming. I just can't stop thinking about those people."

While the world was talking about the surprise of Donald Trump becoming US president, firefighters in south-east London were trying to free people from the wreckage of a derailed tram near the Sandilands stop.

Seven people died and more than 50 people were injured when the tram, filled with people making their way into work, overturned shortly after 06:00 GMT.

"It was an awful shock to wake up to," Sharon said. "My daughter was on her way to the tram stop when it happened.

"But this morning, it is so unnerving and eerie. This road is normally teeming with people, buses, cars, children and trams. Now it is like a ghost town."

'People were scared'

The streets were strangely quiet as people made their way through the residential area in the run-up to rush hour. The silence was only broken by a small group of schoolchildren, talking at nervous speed about the terrifying episode.

A huge cordon was in place around the crash, blocking off neighbouring roads and the main route to East Croydon station.

And police officers guarded each entrance, only letting a handful of commuters duck under the barriers as they tried to continue with their lives.

Image caption Very few trams were in operation in the early hours, with large parts of the track shut down for the investigation

Paul Arneill was on one of the first trams on Thursday morning - for the few stops he could go before services were suspended for police to continue their investigation.

"When I go in early, I always get a tram around that time," he said. "It was eerie going on it this morning, knowing what had happened just yesterday.

"You just don't think it could happen. I have been getting the tram ever since it started and it just part of the day for people who live round here. But people were scared this morning."

'Heartbreaking'

But one traveller, who was on the tram immediately before the crash, said he had not been surprised by the derailment.

"The rate you see tram drivers hare around those corners is frightening," said Con O'Sullivan. "They do go really fast when they travel on this route. I am not surprised something like this has eventually happened."

Image caption People in the community are reaching out to comfort each other

Others were hugging each other maybe just that little bit tighter as they bid farewell to loved ones only 24 hours after the crash.

Katia Muscara, who has lived in Croydon for 12 years, was in tears as she spoke about the incident - which has led to the driver being arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

"It is even more shocking this morning as it starts to sink in," she said, after saying goodbye to her child for the day. "It is heartbreaking.

"My kids use that tram, our friends' kids use that tram. If it had been half an hour later, our children could have been on there.

"It is normally so busy on this street at this time, full of kids running around and all the traffic. To see it like this, so silent, it just hits you."

One bunch of flowers was laid just outside the cordon on Addiscombe Road to show the victims' families were in the thoughts of local people.

The card read: "To the families of all the lives lost, my deepest sympathy. From a Croydon resident and my family. RIP. God bless."

The community was coming together but the shock and sadness that is palpable on the local streets will take time to heal.

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