Dozens of people were injured when a double-decker bus carrying 70 people overturned in icy conditions in Somerset early on Tuesday.
A major incident was declared after the shuttle carrying workers to Hinkley Point C nuclear power station “rolled over” on the A39 Quantock Road near the town of Bridgwater, in a crash that also involved a motorbike.
Police confirmed on Tuesday lunchtime that 54 people triaged at the scene by medics and a number have been taken to local hospitals, but thankfully no-one died.
Insp Rebecca Wells-Cole, of Avon and Somerset Police, said on Tuesday afternoon: “It is too soon to confirm if any of these patients have life-threatening injuries.
Somerset: Cannington Bus Crash
“However, 26 patients are being treated as walking wounded.”
Devon and Somerset Fire Service told how crews had to use hydraulic cutting equipment and tools to help free three casualties who were trapped inside the vehicle, as part of a major response by emergency services.
By Tuesday afternoon the accident was no longer being treated a major incident, but Insp Wells-Cole said it may take “some time” to move the bus and clear the road of debris.
She warned residents to “only travel where absolutely essential”, due to icy conditions on the roads, and urged people to avoid the A39 while the incident is cleared.
The bus was a shuttle operated by Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, used to transport staff to and from the site, which is currently under construction in Somerset.
Video footage circulated on social media appeared to show people clambering out of the overturned vehicle in the dark, early on Tuesday morning.
One person could be heard screaming, while people appeared to be banging on the rear of the bus in an apparent attempt to help free people and belongings.
Charis Ware, 45, who lives near ths ite of the crash, told how she was woken around 6am on Tuesday by a loud bang.
“Then I heard some more banging and crunching noises and then I had some shouting, screaming and some horns honking, obviously to warn other drivers,” she said.
“That’s when I realised that there’d been a serious accident on the road.
“My initial thoughts were ‘that’s a big bus, there’s a lot of passengers involved. I hope everybody’s OK’.”
Ms Ware said the road is known as “a bit of a red route” among locals, and that there have been a number of accidents there involving water pooling and freezing on the roads, making them treacherous.
“But every year and every winter, we seem to have the same problem,” she said. “It’s very worrying. Especially as it’s such a busy road.
“I hope somebody will take accountability for what’s happened today and that it’s the last time we see something like this happen.”
Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger described the incident as “a terrifying experience for everyone on that bus”, adding: “We absolutely most get to the bottom of why this crash occurred”.
A “significant” number of police, fire and ambulance crews were called to the scene around 6am on Tuesday, and closures remained in place at the junction of Sandford Hill and Quantock Road around 11.30am.
Avon and Somerset Police said: “We were called at around 6am today to the A39 Quantock Road following a road-related incident involving a double-decker bus and a motorcyclist.
“Closures are in place at the junction of Sandford Hill and Quantock Road.
“A significant number of police, fire and ambulance units are on the scene and a major incident has been declared.”
The crash came as Avon and Somerset Police early on Tuesday morning advised people to only travel if “absolutely essential”, after freezing weather conditions resulted in dozens of road accidents, with the force receiving more than 100 reports of road-related incident in just five hours.
Somerset residents have expressed their shock over the incident on Twitter.
Hannah Alderson wrote: “Oh my heart just sinks hearing about the bus crash near Cannington. Praying for the passengers and driver, the wonderful community in Bridgwater and Cannington, the emergency services and all responding to this emergency.”
A total of 53 collisions were reported to local police between 6pm and 11pm on Monday evening, with the majority being a result of the freezing weather causing dangerous driving conditions.
The force said seven of the incidents were reported to have resulted in injuries but they were not thought to be serious. A further 67 calls were received for other road-related incidents.
Superintendent Mark Runacres said: “We are advising the public to only travel where absolutely essential due to the treacherous driving conditions.
“If travel is necessary, we ask the public to take extreme caution and allow additional time to travel.
“We have seen a significantly higher number of road-related collisions and incidents in the past 12 hours, which has increased the demand on police resources.
“We are working with local authorities and National Highways to ensure roads are properly gritted ahead of the rush hour traffic to improve driving conditions.”
Following the bus crash, MP Mr Liddell-Grainger said: “I am aware police have been reporting a high number of accidents in the area this morning, all of them blamed on icy road conditions. We need to establish as soon as we can whether similar circumstances played a role in this particular event.”