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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 February 2007, 08:29 GMT
Investigators seal off crash site
Julie Cush
BBC News, Cumbria

Rescue workers at crash
Hundreds of rescue workers have been at the scene
Within three hours of the Cumbria train derailment a five-mile diameter cordon was in place, sealing off the investigation site.

Just one police officer, who had been on duty all night, manned the barrier on the tiny Tebay to Grayrigg road barring all but engineers and Network Rail investigators to pass.

Other people were told the site had to be preserved as a potential crime scene while investigators probed the cause of the fatal crash.

At 0340 GMT a motorist and a taxi driver were turned away from the barrier without so much as a protest, as the seriousness of the crash began to sink in.

Police confirmed more than 500 rescuers, police and accident investigators had visited the scene in the hours since the derailment near Docker Bridge, close to the isolated village of Grayrigg at 2015 GMT on Friday.

I will never forget the sight of women wearing high heels stumbling down ladders from the carriages and wandering through the mud
Rescue worker

Grayrigg has a population of only a few hundred, but as soon as news of the crash broke, police said the local community rallied, inviting the walking wounded into their homes for comfort and a hot drink.

The remoteness of the location also made it difficult for rescuers who battled through heavy rain in poor light to free dazed passengers from the overturned carriages.

Opened their doors

A member of the emergency services, who did not wish to be named, described what it was like being one of the first on the scene.

He said: "When I arrived it was hard to take in. I will never forget the sight of women wearing high heels stumbling down ladders from the carriages and wandering through the mud.

"There were a lot of elderly people clutching their bags looking very shocked, dazed and confused. We helped dozens of walking wounded.

"It was a filthy night weather-wise, and rescuers did a magnificent job because finding the remote location was a problem as there was no light.

Three helicopters

"This is a small community - there are only about 300 residents, but the farmers opened their doors - a lot of people were taken to Brackenhall Farm for hot drinks and something to eat and the place is completely trampled with mud.

"The cordon had to be put in place because technically this could be a crime scene, although there is no indication that there was anything on the track or anything had been tampered with.

"This is a major incident and about 500 personnel have been at the scene. We had three helicopters at the site as well as fire and ambulance crews from as far away as Doncaster."

Emergency crews at the crash scene

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