Alton Towers remains closed following accident

The Smiler 3Alton Towers will remain closed for a second day on Thursday, as investigations continue following a ride crash which seriously inured four people.

The Health and safety Executive (HSE) is on site investigating the accident, which hurt a total of 16 people.

Shortly after 2pm yesterday, two of the Smiler rollercoaster’s trains collided, requiring a multi-hour rescue operation of those on board.

Four of the injured were admitted to Midlands hospitals, with what was reported by the emergency services as “severe leg injuries”.

A BBC correspondent said he understood some of those on the ride sustained “life-changing injuries”.

Two females and two males were on the front row of the ride, and sustained the worst injuries.

Senior paramedic, Peter Howell, was quoted as saying: “the women’s injuries were worst, both suffered open wounds and damaged legs; the two men had leg and chest injuries but were less seriously hurt.”

Operations investigation

The SmilerThe HSE is the independent government body for the enforcement of health and safety in the workplace, which also includes amusement parks.

It is investigating the possibility of operator error causing the collision, but that its role was to “establish the facts”.

In a statement today, Neil Craig, HSE head of operations for in the Midlands, said:

“This was a major incident and members of the public have suffered serious injuries.

“It meets the criteria for an HSE investigation and our inspectors were at Alton Towers yesterday to begin making inquiries.

“We have assembled a team of specialist inspectors and technical investigators and they will be on site today to continue our investigation.

“Our role is to establish the facts. We will want to determine that those responsible for operating this ride have done what the law requires. We will also ensure that if there are any lessons to be learned they are shared as soon as possible.

“Although the investigation is in its early stages, we will take action to protect the public if we uncover evidence that could affect the safety of other rides at the park or elsewhere.”

‘Devastated’

Merlin Entertainments CEO said he took the decision to close the park

Merlin Entertainments CEO said he took the decision to close the park

Nick Varney, chief executive of Alton Towers operators Merlin Entrainments yesterday flew into the theme park via helicopter.

In a statement today, he said: “This has been a terrible incident and a devastating day for everyone here.

“We have a very strong record of safe operation of our rides here at Alton Towers and it is our priority.

“I would like to express my sincerest regret and apology to everyone who suffered injury and distress today and to their families.

“I would like to thank the emergency services and my own teams for their swift and effective response yesterday – they were outstanding.

“A full investigation is now under way and we will continue to work closely with the emergency services and the Health and Safety Executive to better understand the cause of this terrible accident.”

Varney has stated that the decision to close the park yesterday was taken by him.

At the scene yesterday he said that the ride’s two trains “should not have been on the same piece of track” and that “technically that should not have happened”.

Alton Towers said it would revalidate the tickets of those who were planning to visit during the unspecified period of closure.

A similar rollercoaster at Merlin’s Thorpe Park in Surrey did not operate on Wednesday, in what is understood to be a precautionary measure.

Saw – The Ride, also by The Smiler manufacturers Gerstlauer, has a similar control systems and mechanical components.

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