Two people killed and 49 hurt in M11 Essex coach crash

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Media captionThe BBC's Stuart Ratcliffe was near the scene and said a popular event nearby meant congestion was heavy

Two people have been killed and 49 injured - six of them seriously - in a crash which closed the M11 in both directions in Essex and Cambridgeshire.

The crash involving a coach and a lorry took place near junction nine for Saffron Walden.

The lorry driver and a passenger on the coach, which was carrying nearly 50 people from the West Yorkshire area, were killed.

The road was closed between junctions eight and nine.

Police have named the driver of the lorry as Zdzislaw Piorko, 53, of Maidstone, Kent.

The coach passenger was Delia Walker, 63, of Pontefract, West Yorkshire.

Firefighters from Essex and Cambridgeshire used rescue equipment to free them but they were certified dead at the scene.

The crash happened on the southbound carriageway and has been causing long delays for people heading to Stansted Airport and the 2,000 Guineas race meeting at Newmarket.

Hard shoulder

Simon Posner, spokesman for the Confederation of Passenger Transport, said 49 adult passengers from the West Yorkshire area were on board.

"The driver felt a problem with the vehicle and that it was going to break down so moved to the hard shoulder with hazard lights on," he said.

"Less than 30 seconds later it was struck from behind by a lorry."

Mr Posner said the coach was only two years old and had a very experienced driver.

Image caption Firefighters fought to free the lorry driver who was trapped in his cab

He said most passengers were now being taken back to West Yorkshire on board another of the company's coaches.

The northbound carriageway of the M11 was closed to allow access to a recovery crane but was reopened at 1350 BST.

The southbound carriageway, which needed more clear-up work and repairs to the nearside crash-barrier, was reopened at 1455 BST.

Diversions are in place via the A505, A10 and A120.

The A11 was also closed southbound between the A505 and junction nine of the M11 but was reopened at 1455 BST.

Shopping trip

East of England Ambulance Service said 43 people had suffered minor injuries and six had been seriously hurt.

The casualties were taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow and Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

Three people remain in hospital with neck and back injuries.

Emergency services were called to the scene shortly before 0230 BST.

The lorry, which was carrying carrots, spilled its load on to the road and was left on its side on an embankment with the driver trapped.

The coach, operated by Ross Travel Group of Featherstone, West Yorkshire, was upright on the hard shoulder of the motorway with severe damage to its side and rear and an elderly woman trapped on board.

It was on the way to Dover taking passengers bound for Belgium on a one-day shopping trip.

Essex Police have launched an investigation into the cause of the crash and are asking any witnesses to contact them.

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