Cardiff car crash: How search for vehicle unfolded - as police face criticism over response

Police are continuing to investigate a fatal car crash in Cardiff which left three people dead as questions remain over why it took so long to find the victims.

Eve Smith, 21, Darcy Ross, 21, and Rafel Jeanne, 24, died after the Volkswagen Tiguan they were travelling in came off the A48(M) in the Welsh capital and crashed into trees in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Sophie Russon, 20, and Shane Loughlin, 32 - who were in the same vehicle and survived - remain in a critical condition, according to police.

Hundreds of people took part in searches but police did not issue a public appeal for help until Sunday evening - more than a day after the first missing person report was made.

Both Gwent and South Wales Police have come under heavy criticism over how long it took to find the wreckage.

Sister of crash victim 'disappointed' with police

And now the forces have confirmed the timings of missing person reports it received - the earliest of which came in more than a day before a public appeal was launched, and the vehicle was eventually found.

Lewis Pace was a close friend of victim Rafel Jeanne. He and his father say they found tyre tracks leading to the wreckage just before the police did - and that officers "should have been looking" earlier than they did.

Here are the timings of everything we know so far.

Friday 3 March

The group had been to a social club in Maesglas, Newport, on Friday night and were thought to have then travelled 40 miles to the Trecco Bay area of Porthcawl.

Saturday 4 March

Police have confirmed they were last seen at 2am on Saturday 4 March in Pentwyn in Cardiff.

South Wales Police and Gwent Police said in a joint statement that the collision occurred "during the early hours" of Saturday morning, with the exact time yet to be confirmed by the investigation.

All five were registered missing by their families, having failed to return home.

The first missing person report was made to Gwent Police at 7.34pm on Saturday, with further missing person reports made at 7.43pm and 9.32pm.

Sunday 5 March

A further report was made to South Wales Police at 5.37pm on Sunday.

Police confirmed the timings of the missing reports in a statement on Tuesday.

Hundreds of people took part in searches but Gwent Police did not issue a public appeal for help until 11pm on Sunday.

Police say at 11.50pm a police helicopter was requested to search an area of Cardiff which resulted in a vehicle being located in a wooded area off of the A48(M).

Monday 6 March

The car the five were travelling in was discovered in the St Mellons area of the capital in the early hours of Monday.

Friends of the five claim they found the vehicle before officers - while police insist it was located by a helicopter.

A father and son - who was best friends with one of the victims killed in the crash - told Sky News they found the car in a wooded area along the A48 just after midnight.

Matthew Pace, 45, and his son Lewis, 26 said that police arrived "about a minute" after he and Lewis had pulled up by the side of the road after noticing "tyre marks" near the wooded area.

Gwent Police say officers on the ground had sight of the car at 12.02am and and a log was created by South Wales Police at 12.15am.

Officers believe the vehicle was involved in a road traffic collision, but it is not clear exactly when that happened. South Wales Police and Gwent Police think only one car was involved in the crash.

Both forces have referred the matter to the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, "in line with normal procedure".