Updated: November 5, 2011
Police confirm 7 dead and 51 injured in M5 motorway accident

Motorists travelling south from Burnham-On-Sea along the M5 faced long delays following a major accident on Fruday night which shut the motorway.

Police said 34 vehicles - which included six articulated lorries - were involved in the collision, which closed the M5 in both directions between junctions 24 and 25.

A total of 7 people died and 51 people were injured in the vehicles, many of which burst into flames.

Of the injuries, 25 people were taken to Yeovil District Hospital, 17 to Musgrove Park and nine to a temporary holding unit set up by the ambulance service.

Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, overall incident commander, said: "Seven people are confirmed to have died as a result of this tragic incident and we do believe there could be more deaths."

"Our thoughts are with those who may have lost loved ones as a result of last nights collision."

"A large scale multi-agency operation continues at the scene to remove vehicles, check that there are no other casualties and repair the carriageway. This is a hugely complex operation because of the scale of vehicles and people involved."

"All vehicles will need to be removed from the scene for forensic examination and this of course takes time."

"Once the carriageway is clear a large operation will take place to repair the road surface and clear fuel spillages. It is anticipated the motorway will not open until tomorrow (Sunday) at the earliest however we will endeavour to keep the public informed as soon as we can."

During the night Chief Constable Colin Port visited both the site and casualty bureau to give his support and thanks to all those officers, from many emergency services involved in dealing with this tragic incident.

Mr Port said: "My heart goes out to everyone involved and on behalf of all the people of Avon and Somerset I would like to give my condolences to those who have lost loved ones."

"I would like to say a huge thank you to officers from all the emergency services who have had to deal with this very difficult and traumatic incident."

"Everyone has pulled together, including members of the community, local businesses, all our partners and all those outside of Avon and Somerset to provide help and support to those involved."

Support units are in attendance at the moment to carry out searches of nearby fields and verges around the collision scene.

Diversions have been out into place and traffic is being diverted via A38 through North Petherton, whose carnival tonight has been cancelled.

The accident occurred at 8.25pm and numerous emergency crews were in attendance - including fire, police and ambulance teams from Burnham-On-Sea.

An emergency number for members of the public to call if they genuinely fear for the welfare of a friend or loved one is 0800 092 0410. Over 400 calls have been received already.


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