Four teenagers have been seriously injured after two carriages on The Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers collided.
Sixteen people were riding in one carriage on the attraction when the crash happened just after 2pm.
It is believed the passengers crashed into an empty stationary carriage, with four of those hurt still stuck on the ride, 25ft in the air, at a 45 degree angle.
“The other twelve occupants of the ride are not thought to be seriously injured,” he said.
“A platform has been built up in order for emergency services to reach the occupants on the ride, who are approximately 25 feet up in the air at an angle of about 45 degrees.”
He said he was unable to confirm reports that one person had died.
“Once released from the ride, all four seriously injured teenagers will be airlifted to major trauma centres at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire and Royal Stoke University Hospital for further emergency treatment.”
Staffordshire’s Fire and Rescue Service has sent four pumps, an aerial ladder, a rescue tender and rope rescue to the scene of the accident.
Danny Simm, who was at the Staffordshire theme park when the accident happened, tweeted: “People unconscious, knocked out. Blood everywhere. It really was shocking. Air ambulances landing now, people still stuck.”
Lloyd Coller, who was visiting Alton Towers for the day, told Sky News: “I didn’t actually see it but I heard it. It sounded exactly like a car crash – just metal on metal.”
Another witness, Tom Whelton, said that The Smiler had broken down three hours earlier following technical difficulties when he was on the ride.
“When we got stuck on The Smiler … we were at the bottom of the first hill and they sent a train down behind us, which I thought was a bit strange,” he said.
“We went about half-way across the park and we heard a big bang and we didn’t know what it was.”
An air ambulance has arrived at the scene with a trauma doctor on board, and everyone on board the ride is receiving triage.
Four road ambulances, accompanied by senior paramedic managers, have also arrived on the scene to cope with the potential casualties.
Ian Crabbe, director of Alton Towers Resort said the incident was the worst in the theme park’s history.
“May I first say that my colleagues and I are devastated by what has happened here today, and our only priority at this time is to work with the emergency services to get the 16 people affected off the ride safely, and most importantly those who are injured are being cared for,” he said.
“Our concern is with and for them and for their safety, and all our thoughts and efforts are focused on them.
“Just to recap at around 2pm this afternoon there was an incident on the Smiler ride involving two carriages coming together on a low section of the track. One of the carriages was empty and the other had 16 guests in.
“The park’s first responder team were on site in minutes, and the emergency services shortly after. The emergency services, including the air ambulances, remain in attendance and are assisting resort staff as they work to evacuate those on the ride.
“We can confirm that four guests have sustained serious injuries, and they are being treated at the scene until they can be evacuated.
“A full investigation is underway, and representatives of the Health and Safety Executive are already on site and working with us.
“But as I said our absolute priority at the moment is to ensure that all the guests affected are safely off the ride and are being cared for.”
According to the official website of The Smiler, the £18m ride is the world’s first 14 looping rollercoaster.
It opened in May 2013 – and the ride was affected by two incidents within the space of just six months.
Two months after it opened, in July, a metal bolt fell off the ride – leaving a gap in the track. Some 48 people had to be rescued.
Then, in November 2013, passengers sitting in the front seats of the ride were hit when several of the rollercoaster’s wheels fell off.
This appears to be the seventh incident since The Smiler opened to the public which has led to the rollercoaster being closed for repairs, reviews or accidents.
The resort claims the ride features “a series of twisted psychological effects including optical illusions, blinding lights and near-misses designed to mess with your mind”.
It can travel at top speeds of 53mph, and its highest drop is 98ft. In total, the 3,838ft ride lasts for nearly three minutes.
:: Alton Towers has set up a helpline for concerned relatives on 0800 230 0770.
<<Source Sky Sports News>>