Page last updated at 18:50 GMT, Sunday, 17 August 2008 19:50 UK

Five killed as two planes collide

Police car and fire engine near the scene
Police and the fire service are involved in the investigation into the crash

Five people have been killed in a mid-air collision between two light aircraft in Warwickshire.

The pilot of one plane, described as like a microlight, crashed into a field close to Coombe Abbey, Brinklow, near Coventry Airport at around 1130 BST.

A Cessna, carrying four people, came down a mile away in Brandon Woods.

Police believe the planes were returning to Coventry airport when the incident happened and the bodies of the victims are still being recovered.

Det Supt Adrian McGee said: "How they collided and how they came to the collision we still do not know."

The first aircraft landed in a field near Coventry Road, between Brinklow and Coventry.

The Cessna aircraft was owned by Reconnaissance Ventures Ltd (RVL), which is based at Coventry Airport and carried out survey work for government agencies and private firms.

Cessna 402
One of the planes that crashed was a Cessna 402

Colin Dennis, RVL's managing director, said the aircraft had been taking an "entirely routine flight" and was on a "perfectly normal" approach to Coventry Airport at the time of the crash.

"It was approximately two miles from the runway," he said.

"We believe it had been cleared to land by Coventry Airport air traffic control when it was in collision with a smaller, single-engine light aircraft."

Debris from the collision stretched across several miles. No-one on the ground was reported to have been injured.

Commander Mick Leach, of Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "At the moment our thoughts are really on getting the task done.

"Clearly there are a lot of people who are going to get some very distressing news. Our priority is that we can retrieve the bodies as quickly as possible and that those relatives can be notified and can have time and privacy to mourn their loss."

Murray MacGregor, spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service, said crews had found "a scene of devastation" and air accident investigators had launched an inquiry.

"Thankfully nobody was nearby when the debris came down," he said."

Det Supt Adrian McGee appeals for witnesses to the incident

Eyewitness Malcolm Collins, from Daventry, Northamptonshire, was at Coombe Abbey children's playground with his family when the collision occurred.

"We noticed the twin-engined aircraft coming over the top of us. It was about 300 metres away from us, flying away from us as we watched it, and it struck another aircraft that had been coming across. As it hit it, the smaller aircraft just completely disintegrated."

Paul Harwood, head of human resources at Coventry Airport, told BBC News he knew those who died in the crash.

"They are known to us all. They've been around for some time, most of us have been around for some time," he said.

"It is a small community, and our sympathies don't just go out to our families, it's all those who are affected by today."

Det Supt McGee said 30 officers were working at the scene.

"There are two scenes and they are difficult to get to. We are appealing for anyone who witnessed the crash to get in touch."

Coventry Airport was closed for a short time after the crash, but has since reopened.


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