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Last Updated: Monday, 8 November, 2004, 13:54 GMT
'There was total chaos'
Passengers and witnesses have told of the moment a train derailed after hitting a car on a level crossing near the Berkshire village of Ufton Nervet, on Saturday evening.

Seven people died in the high speed accident.

MARIO IOTTI, 24, PASSENGER

Mario Iotti
Mario Iotti, a visitor to the UK on business, survived the crash.

At first it just went all black. Some other passengers were trying to calm people down in the carriage. We also had a priest in there, he was saying please remain calm.

Two guys in my car managed to get the hammers and break out of the top windows [as the carriage was on its side].

I managed to get out through the door at the back.

It was our car that had the fatality in it.

One person was close to the windows and went through and got trapped underneath the train.

It was very unpleasant.

It is unbelievable to think you could go through that kind of thing and even survive

Some girls in front of me had their faces covered in blood and I remember someone saying they had a broken arm.

I guess that 20 to 30 people were trapped in that carriage.

Inside the carriage there was glass everywhere. The really dramatic thing was people were flashing their mobiles to see [in the dark].

For some, this kind of thing happens very quickly, but for me it happened very slowly.

At first it felt like we were going over a bump, like hitting something. A couple of seconds later the train tilted.

You felt something was definitely not right.

I heard the noise of the wheels screeching very loud. There was broken glass all over the track.

The whole thing tilted to the left side of the tracks. My carriage remained on the tracks but on its side, sliding along.

I could see some people at the side of the tracks. I saw one carriage smashed in completely. It was a big pile of wreckage.

As far as I can recall some people were struggling, with broken legs and arms, but 95% were without major injuries, which is great.

It is unbelievable to think you could go through that kind of thing and even survive.

To see from the inside a train derailing is really unbelievable.

Now you just worry that a lot more people were injured as severely.

ELIZABETH HOLMES, 61, PASSENGER IN SECOND CARRIAGE

It was just a judder, I think we probably felt it hit and then there was increasing 'see-sawing'. The carriage tilted at something like a 40-degree angle.

The train manager was checking tickets in our carriage [when the crash happened], so we had him with us and he was absolutely brilliant.

He told everybody to stay where we were, just in case the carriage tipped further, and when he was sure it was stable and we had emergency lighting we were asked to make our way to the door at the far end.

I can't speak highly enough, he was so calm and knew exactly what to do. He was well trained for his job and he did it calmly. There could have been panic, but he was so calm.

There was one lady on duty [in the Winning Hand pub] and she got coffee and tea and water.

I thought that was very impressive, the way they rallied around - and the chap who organised transport down to Taunton.

Apart from a very short time when we didn't know what was happening or how we were going to get home, it was all taken care of.

JONNY SAUNDERS, BBC RADIO FIVE LIVE REPORTER

There was suddenly this extraordinary stopping sensation as if someone had pulled the emergency cord, but it carried on and carried on.

We came to a juddering halt and suddenly the lights went off, screaming, shouting and it went pitch black, then total chaos in the carriage for a few moments.

I was incredibly lucky because the carriage I was in didn't actually go over on its side, but the carriage in front of me did go over on its side and the carriage behind me went over on its side.

I tried to get the hammer to break the glass. We managed to eventually get out.

We were lucky in our carriage, but certainly there would be people less lucky.

We managed to get out and were taken to a nearby pub and people are being treated by the paramedics who are at the pub.

It's pretty scary stuff.

People all around here, myself included, are in complete shock

I was in the back. What they had done on this train, which was not normal and I get this train most days, is that they put the first class section towards the front of the train.

It was pitch black so it was difficult to say what was going on, but it derailed between Reading and Newbury.

There was lots of screaming and shouting and people obviously start panicking.

All I can tell you is what happened in our carriage, but there were lots of people getting up onto their seats and trying to get off the train.

There was a real smell as well of the fumes everywhere. One person tried to light a cigarette and someone said don't light up a cigarette.

It was very, very scary indeed and people all around here, myself included, are in complete shock.

RICHARD MICKLEWRIGHT, PASSENGER

I was in the rear of the train, the train was travelling in reverse formation. Carriage A was at the rear, and I was fortunate to have been in that carriage.

We'd just left Reading and were on our way to Newbury.

It was going at a reasonable speed and then you felt a juddering, and you think OK, they're putting the brakes on.

It became really bad and starting rocking severely
Then it got more severe and I thought it's more than that.

Then it became really bad and starting rocking severely. Our particular carriage went on to its side, about a 45 degree angle but fortunately it stopped shortly after that.

I can tell you the carriage in front of us was upright, the one before that ended up at a right angle to the tracks. Beyond that I couldn't see clearly until they put the lights on just before I left the scene.

It looked to me like there were a lot of carriages strewn all over the place from what I could see, but I wasn't up that end of the train.

I can only tell you from my carriage that I heard no one say they were injured. We were at the rear, so that was a blessing.

It was pretty full, but I think most people were seated, certainly in our carriage.

I spoke to another passenger who was in a car near the front and he said that as he was walking back up the line, he saw there was a massive gap in the middle of the train.

He did talk to a passenger who said he had been in a carriage that had turned over several times.

There was a little bit of panic, one or two people were panicking, saying 'not us, not us'.

I was just grateful that the thing had come to a stop and we were all in one piece.

It was pitch black obviously, until someone managed to find an emergency light.

[The emergency services] were very quick - obviously not immediate, but about 10 or 15 minutes.

CHARLIE EVELYN WHITE, 22, PASSENGER

We were going along and the next thing I heard brakes come on.

It was like when you hear a car crash you instantly recognise the sounds, so I knew what was happening.

I braced against the impact. The lights went off, windows smashed, and the carriage were being dragged along across the gravel.

Someone landed on top of me. The woman said her leg was hurt and someone lifted her off me.

I got out through a broken window.

Now I can't speak. I just want to go home and just relax.

DUNCAN FREEMAN, PASSENGER

I felt a huge jolt and then a second one and the lights went out.

I felt I was in serious danger of losing my life.

I picked up my bag and a ticket inspector told us not to leave the carriage but I could smell diesel so I thought it would be best to get out of the carriage.

JON STACE, 21, PASSENGER

Jon Stace
Jon Stace suffered lacerations to his arm and back in the crash
We felt a judder and thought it was just a blip on the track, then all the lights went out and the next thing we knew the train was on its side and it was rolling over.

I could feel bodies going on top of me and being thrown different places.

And I felt my arm go through the window, because the glass wasn't there, and my head as well. I managed to pull my head back in but my arm got dragged along.

The noise was terrifying...as soon as the lights went out, everyone was in a state of shock.

All I could hear was the banging of rails, the screeching, the sound of it running along the gravel and dirt and glass smashing.

I feel thankful I'm still alive
Jon Stace
The smell of diesel when you got out was overwhelming.

As soon as [the train] came to a stop after smashing along, we all shouted on another's names and heard a lot more shouting, so we tried to get everyone to calm down.

We managed to get out and I went back in with another friend because my arm at this time didn't feel too bad - I think it was adrenaline - to try to see if we could help anyone else.

One lady couldn't be moved, but we managed to get another lady out, that was all we could really do at that time.

But we went back in again and fortunately there was only one lady left back in there, but she was with her son and a train worker who had by this time come to try to sort things out.

I didn't feel as though I was too badly injured and wanted to make sure everyone else was out. I didn't really think about it at the time it was just a kneejerk reaction.

I feel thankful I'm still alive because, not only was I in danger of losing my arm, but some people obviously haven't made it, so I just feel lucky to have walked away.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Stories from some of the survivors




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