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The BBC's Jeremy Bowen
"The locomotive was also pulling the train at the Hatfield crash last year"
 real 56k

Supt Tony Thompson, of the British Transport Police
"We don't know if there will be any other bodies trapped in the wreckage"
 real 56k

Crash survivor Janine Edwards
"It's only now it's really starting to sink in what actually happened"
 real 56k

Central Rail Users Cttee spokesman Jim Beale
"This was not another rail crash, it was a road accident"
 real 56k

Thursday, 1 March, 2001, 13:19 GMT
Crews search tangled wreckage
Selby train crash
Thirteen people are known to have died in the crash
The grim task of recovering bodies from the wreckage of Wednesday's train crash in North Yorkshire is under way, as police warn there might still be people unaccounted for.

Thirteen people died and 70 were injured when a Land Rover careered into the path of a high-speed passenger train which was then hit by a freight train at Great Heck near Selby.

More than 20 of the injured are still in hospital, two of them remain critically ill.

Cranes and specialist cutting equipment have been brought in to help rescuers sift through the heavily mangled wreckage.

'Possibly asleep at wheel'

The investigation into how the Land Rover came to be on the track is still at an early stage and police are looking at several possible causes.

The lack of skid-marks on the road, and the straight path of the vehicle once it left the road have led them to consider the possibility that the driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel.

South Yorkshire Police have confirmed that five bodies were recovered on Wednesday from outside the train carriages and that officers will be recovering bodies from inside on Thursday.

Click here to see map.

A team of 50 specially trained officers, from the Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police and Greater Manchester Police, will undertake the operation.

Fire crews from are using specialist lifting and cutting gear to move parts of the wreckage so that officers can safely go inside.

Superintendent Tony Thompson of the British Transport Police said teams hoped to recover all remaining bodies before nightfall, but added that further bodies might be found once the wreckage was lifted.

'Freak accident'

The collision near Selby, in which the drivers of both trains were killed, has been described by experts as a freak accident.

The Land Rover was pulling a car on a trailer when it came off the M62 motorway where it crosses the East Coast main line, and slid down an embankment onto the tracks.

Police investigate the Land Rover's wreckage
Police are investigating the Land Rover's wreckage
The southbound 0445 Newcastle to London train, travelling at 125mph, hit the vehicles and derailed at around 0612GMT, skidding onto the northbound track.

Moments later, a freight train heading north loaded with 1,000 tonnes of coal ploughed into the train at 60mph, crushing several carriages and throwing one into a field.

GNER chief executive Christopher Garnett said he did not think the rail industry could have prevented the accident.

"I don't think this was a day about rail safety," he told the BBC.

Questions remain

But he said questions remained about the placement of motorway crash barriers which "did not prove adequate".

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who on Wednesday travelled to the crash scene has asked the Health and Safety Executive to prepare an interim report. It is expected to be ready within days.

Accident chronology
Two vehicles and a trailer fall off motorway onto line
GNER train hits two vehicles and low-loader
Train derailed
Freight train, travelling in the opposite direction, collides with passenger train

On Wednesday night, local residents gathered for a church service in the village of Snaith near the crash scene to say prayers for the bereaved relatives, and the families of those still in hospital.

It has emerged that a second rail disaster was narrowly avoided on Wednesday when an elderly woman motorist drove on to a railway line near Petersfield, Hampshire, after becoming confused at a level crossing.

Another motorist dialled 999 and helped the woman from her car. The power to the line was switched off, stopping trains for more than an hour while the car was winched to safety.

An emergency number 0207 8347777 has been set up for members of the public concerned about friends and relatives.

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