At least 7 people were killed and 51 injured in a horrific 27 vehicles crash on the M5 motorway near Taunton, Somerset, UK.
The crash described by the emergency services as one of the worst they have ever seen.
There are fears the death toll could soar even higher as police said they believe bodies may still be trapped in vehicles which have been left “burnt and unrecognisable”.
The horrific crash on the northbound carriageway near Taunton, Somerset, involved 23 cars and vans and four lorries.
According to police, the vehicles were “immediately alight” following the crash as a huge fire engulfed the carriageway.
Police confirmed that a fireworks display was going on nearby when the collision happened at 8:25 p.m. last night and said the road was wet and there was fog in the area at the time.
Television footage showed motorists trying to pry open vehicle doors in a bid to rescue those trapped. The motorway will remain closed until at least tomorrow as repairs are carried out.
The crash is the worst on British roads since 1991 when 10 people were killed and 25 injured in a huge pile-up on the M4 in Hungerford, Berkshire.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening expressed sympathy with the families of those affected by the tragedy and thanked rescue rescue workers and emergency staff who worked throughout the night to help the injured.
15 appliances raced to the scene and immediately closed off the motorway in both directions. It is expected to be shut for the next 24 hours while emergency workers recover bodies and clear the debris from the accident.
Firefighters used hydraulic equipment to pull injured from the wrecked vehicles. Some had “life changing”injuries.
According to eyewitnesses, the pile-up was triggered when an Iceland truck suddenly disappeared into a “black hole” of fog.
Andrea Day from Trafficlink said it was the worst accident she has seen in the 10 years she had been working for the traffic information provider.
“I have never come across an accident of this kind – not in terms of the volume of vehicles involved.”
Paul Slaven from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service told the BBC:
“This is the worst road traffic collision anyone can remember… so many vehicles involved.”
Asked why the vehicle fires had been so fierce he said:
“I have not had a report of any toxic or chemical material being carried by any vehicles it is just a case of the number of vehicles involved and the type of vehicle.
“At least two of the vehicles on fire were articulated lorries and there would be a lot of fuel on them.”
Paul Slaven added that it was too early to speculate what had caused the pile-up, but said there had been a number of contributing factors which made road conditions dangerous.
“The weather was not particularly good at the time and it would have been particularly busy at the time because of the Bridgwater Carnival,” Paul Slaven said.
He said the police were in the process of setting up a dedicated telephone line for worried relatives of people who may have been in the area at the time of the incident.
Today the Highways Agency urged all motorists to avoid the area, with the northbound and southbound sections between junctions 25 and 24 closed off.
Dr. Colin Close, medical director for Taunton’s Musgrove Park Hospital where many of the injured are being treated, said the hospital had dealt with “nothing of this magnitude ever before”.
“The injuries of those brought in ranged from simple limb fractures to more complex chest and abdominal trauma,” he said.
One surgeon was flown in by helicopter from Exeter to help treat the casualties.
“They have been treated and none are in a critical condition. Everyone is stable.”