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Friday, January 8, 1999 Published at 17:59 GMT


Kegworth remembered

The crash memorial in Kegworth village cemetery

The BBC's James Roberson reports from the Kegworth memorial service
The survivors and families of the victims of the Kegworth air disaster have held a short memorial service on the 10th anniversary of the tragedy.

On 8 January 1989 a British Midland Boeing 737 bound for Belfast crashed onto the M1 near the village of Kegworth in Leicestershire, killing 47 people.

Seventy-nine people survived the crash and many of them joined staff from the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham on Friday at a memorial service in the hospital chapel.

Hospital chaplain, the Rev David Stoter, read out the names of the dead and the survivors, who had been taken to the QMC for emergency treatment.

"Everyone here has memories which are strong and powerful about what happened 10 years ago," he said.

"There is no way you could be involved in something like an air crash without being changed forever - you have something that no-one else will ever fully understand."

Bob Walker talks to people with vivid memories of the crash
Passenger David Mulholland died in the crash, but his father Jim, from Belfast, made the journey to the hospital.

"This was really all quite emotional for me and the family. I wanted to be here, because I felt it was important to come to the place where David died and where so many good people battled to save him," he said.

"The pain of losing him seemed to be getting better over the years, but in the last six months, as we have been heading towards today it has just all started coming back."

The head of the QMC's accident and emergency department, Dr Andrew Dove, also attended.

"It is one of those events which will never leave you. Most of the staff that still work at the hospital who were on duty that night felt it was important to come along today," he said.

"It was strange because for A&E it all came and went in a massive three hour rush - something like the latest flu crisis is probably more stressful."

In Kegworth village cemetery, locals took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the three tonne monument to the crash victims which sits on soil taken from the M1 crash site.

Mr Mulholland said: "I was touched to find out that the villagers keep the memorial looking so good and that they hold a simple service every year in memory of the crash."

Crash survivor Donat Desmond told BBC News: "I believe that if safety and survivability issues had been addressed we would have seen a lot more people surviving."

The flight hit the embankment of the M1 and broke up 900yds short of East Midlands airport runway after the pilots reacted to a fire in the left engine by mistakenly shutting down the right engine.

A QMC doctor, Professor Angus Wallace, carried out a five-year investigation into the crash and discovered that many of the passengers' injuries came from failing to adopt the correct brace position for a crash landing.

The brace position recommended by Prof Wallace's research team has now been implemented by all British airlines.

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