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Thursday, October 7, 1999 Published at 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK


UK

Relatives' vigil at crash site

A policeman leaves his own mark of respect

Relatives of the London train crash victims are due at the scene - amid fears that the number of dead will reach 70, and possibly many more.


The BBC's Clarence Mitchell:"The human face of this tragedy is beginning to emerge"
The search for remains resumed on Thursday morning and the discovery of five more bodies in the wreckage brought the number of confirmed dead up to 33.

The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, is expecting a report on the Health and Safety Executive's initial findings on his desk on Friday morning.

London Train Crash
Relatives and well-wishers laid flowers and tributes to the victims overnight and some are expected to visit the crash scene on Thursday.

Superintendent Tony Thompson, of British Transport Police, said specially trained counsellors and police officers would escort those relatives who wanted to come to the site.


The BBC's Simon Montague: "Still no one knows how many perished"
He said: "These are people who are firmly convinced that their loved ones are among the dead.

"They want to go to the scene so they can start the grieving process.


[ image: These flowers, with a message of sympathy, were left close to the crash site]
These flowers, with a message of sympathy, were left close to the crash site
"We will offer these relatives all the support that they need at this obviously deeply distressing time."

Police in Reading are concentrating their enquiries on 22 unclaimed cars which have been in the station car park for two nights.

Mr Prescott has ordered one of the country's top judges, Lord Cullen, to head a public inquiry into the Paddington disaster.


John Cartledge of London Regional Passengers Committee: "It's a fiendishly difficult issue"
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he promised to find the money - up to £1bn - to fund the Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system if Lord Cullen's inquiry deemed it necessary.

This summer the government opted for a Train Protection Warning System (TPWS) - a cheaper version of ATP - to be introduced on all trains by the end of 2003, at a cost of about £150m.


Vic Coleman, of the Health and Safety Executive
Mr Prescott said money was not an object and added: "I hear these arguments about £250m for one (system) and £1bn for another - £1bn is not a great amount of money, quite frankly."

At a news conference on Thursday morning, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Trotter, of the Metropolitan Police, said the search would continue until at least Saturday and rail services may not be restored until the middle of next week.

At least 70 people are believed to have died when two commuter trains collided almost head-on near the west London station. Of the 36 people still in hospital, 11 remain critically injured.


The BBC's Susannah Reid: "Hopes rest on another costly but fail-safe system"
But the bodies of a further 100 people, so far unaccounted for, could lie in the carriages - many of them in the burnt-out remains of the Great Western express, which was turned into an inferno in Tuesday's collision with a local Thames train.

Temperatures hit 1000C as fire swept through the first class Carriage H, in what has already become the worst rail accident in the UK for more than 30 years.


The BBC's Jane O'Brien: "Churches are ready to cope with the grief"
Rescuers have to assemble a 100-tonne crane capable of moving and stabilizing Carriage H before a fingertip search can begin. The crane, which can lift up to 1,000 tonnes, is not expected to be in operation until Friday.


[ image: Unclaimed cars in Reading station car park hint at the town's loss]
Unclaimed cars in Reading station car park hint at the town's loss
On Wednesday it was revealed the driver of the Thames train, 31-year-old Michael Hodder from Reading, Berkshire, had driven through a red signal.

The signal, known as SN109, has been known to give trouble before and the train operators have complained repeatedly to Railtrack and Her Majesty's Rail Inspectorate.

Click here to see the site of the crash

Train drivers have threatened to strike unless the ATP emergency braking system is installed on all trains.

ATP was recommended by the inquiry following the Clapham rail disaster in 1988, in which 35 died, but its widespread use was ruled out on cost grounds.


BBC's Linda Duffin: "Some of the victims may never be identified"
The police are trying to end the confusion over the number of people killed and have urged anyone who made it home safely to contact them.

They have also appealed to anyone who was on either of the trains and are especially keen to talk to anyone who was in Carriage H but disembarked at Reading.

The number to call is 0171 834 7777. Worried relatives and friends should call the same number.

All people on the train or witnesses nearby are also asked to call the British Transport Police answerphone on 0800 405040 and leave their name and numbers so they can be contacted as part of the inquiry.

(click here to return)


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