6 Nov 2011

Seven killed in motorway crash

4:28 am on 6 November 2011

Seven people were killed and dozens hurt in a 27-vehicle crash on a busy motorway in south-west England.

Police say they are trying to free people after the crash, which happened on the M5 near Bridgwater, Somerset at about 8.30pm on Friday local time.

Emergency crews said the cause was not clear, but there had been reports of heavy rain and fog in the area.

The BBC reports the M5 is shut for long stretches and motorists have been urged to avoid the area.

Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, of Avon and Somerset Police, said "several people" had died but he could not be specific about numbers at this stage.

"The officers and the other emergency services faced a very, very difficult scene when they arrived.

"The collision itself involved what we believe to be about 27 vehicles - both lorries and cars. So they were faced with virtually all of them on fire. Many of them (vehicles) have burnt literally to the ground."

Coach driver Michael Wagner said he had "never seen anything like it".

"There were lots of lorries on fire. There was a car underneath one of the lorries.

"It looked like two lorries had jack-knifed at the front. In all, there must have been eight or nine lorries and 15 cars behind them. There was smoke and flames everywhere."