Six people have been killed and a seventh critically injured after a multiple-vehicle crash in Birmingham, West Midlands Ambulance Service has said.
Three men who were thrown from a car were among the dead along with a taxi driver and his passengers following the “harrowing” collision in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The taxi driver has been named locally as Imtiaz Mohammed, a 32-year-old father of six.
Six vehicles were involved in the crash at about 1.10am at the entrance to an underpass on Lee Bank Middleway, close to the city centre.
Five ambulances, a hazardous area response team, fire crews and an air ambulance critical care car were among the emergency services sent to the “extensive” crash scene.
Police have appealed for witnesses as they investigate what caused the crash.
The six people killed were travelling in two of three vehicles involved in the initial crash on a dual carriageway leading under Bristol Road.
The family of Mr Mohammed, who lived in the Small Heath area of the city, have paid tribute to him as “loving”, “hardworking” as as a “legend”.
His brother Noor Khan told the Birmingham Mail: “Imitaz Mohammed in one word is a legend. He got married at young age, he’s raised a family, he’s got properties and as well he was doing taxi. Working, working, grafting from a young age.
“He was very loved in the community, I’m getting phone calls all day, all this road he’s got friends in each house, aunties uncles, friends – everyone loves him.”
He said he had been due to see him later on Sunday but now he “won’t see him ever again”.
An ambulance service spokesman said: “In the first car there were a man and a woman. The vehicle had suffered very extensive damage but astonishingly, despite the damage, the pair had managed to get out and had suffered relatively minor injuries. They were taken to Heartlands Hospital by ambulance for further assessment.
“The second vehicle, a black cab, was on its side. Sadly, there was nothing that could be done to save the driver and he was confirmed dead at the scene.
"The man and woman in the back were rapidly extricated. Unfortunately, it was not possible to save the woman and she was also confirmed dead at the scene. The man was taken on blue lights to the major trauma centre at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham with the Medical Emergency Response Incident Team trauma doctor travelling with the crew. Sadly, he died at hospital.”
Four men travelling in a third car had all “been ejected”, said the ambulance service.
The spokesman added: “Tragically, three of them were confirmed dead at the scene. The fourth was also taken on blue lights to the major trauma centre at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham with the critical care car doctor travelling with the crew. He was said to be in a critical condition on arrival.”
Three further cars were involved in the collision as their drivers tried to avoid the scene. Three people were treated for minor injuries.
The ambulance service said staff sent to the “extremely complex and distressing” scene would be given “ongoing support”.
Superintendent Sean Phillips, of West Midlands Police, said: “It’s a harrowing scene. There are families involved, these are real people involved. It is very distressing for everyone.”
He urged anyone who took pictures of the immediate aftermath of the crash not to share them on social media and to hand them in as evidence.
“To share images that would portray something that is perhaps unwelcome for the families and unhelpful for the investigation at this time,” said Supt Phillips. “I would urge people not to do that.
“I would urge them to contact police and share it with West Midlands Police. It will be treated as evidence and information that might help us piece together exactly what’s happened.”
He added: “It is way too early to speculate on the causes of the accident.
It will take some time to unpick the scene and just understand exactly what’s happened. It would be unfair for me to speculate at this time.”
Sergeant Alan Hands, of the force’s collision investigation unit, said: “We are currently dealing with a very serious collision and working with partner agencies to establish what caused this collision to happen.
“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies remain with the families of those who have very sadly lost their lives this morning and those who have been injured or caught up in this incident.”
Jason Campbell, area commander of of West Midlands Fire Service, said: “Our deepest sympathies are with the families and friends of everyone who has lost their lives. Our thoughts are also with the injured, some of whom are very seriously hurt.
“The first West Midlands Fire Service crews arrived in less than four minutes and were met with a complex scene, spread over some distance.
“Our firefighters’ actions involved stabilising vehicles, releasing the dead and injured, as well as administering CPR and first aid.
“All of the emergency services worked together and coordinated their response in extremely challenging circumstances, doing all they possibly could to minimise the loss of life.
“We will be giving our colleagues at West Midlands Police every support possible throughout their investigation into this horrific incident.
“We would urge anyone who saw what happened to contact the police as soon as possible if they haven’t already done so.”
The road will remain closed on Sunday.
Witnesses can call police on 101, quoting log number 175 of 17 December.