Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Sunday, 23 November 2008

Policemen killed 'on way to help'

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Four officers were killed in the crash

Four policemen have been killed in a road crash while answering a call for help from colleagues in County Down.

They were driving towards Rostrevor on the coast road outside Warrenpoint when the accident happened at about 0400 GMT.

All four were from south Down. The men were aged between their mid-20s and late 30s and it is understood two of them had young children.

The police said they were treating the deaths as a tragic accident.

Sir Hugh Orde
Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde visited the scene of the accident

Assistant Chief Constable Judith Gillespie said an investigation into the crash had started.

"The vehicle collided with a wall at a small bridge and caught fire," she said.

ACC Gillespie said the vehicle had, like most other police vehicles, been fitted with a 'black box' device, "which will record all the details of the incident at the time".

She said it was too early to say whether the dark and wet conditions were a factor in the crash.

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde visited the scene of the tragedy on Sunday morning.

He said he was "shocked" at what he had seen, and at the loss suffered by both the families of the men and the PSNI.

DUP assembly member Jim Wells said: "There won't be a single family in south Down who won't know one of those killed.

"They were family men and it's going to be an extraordinarily difficult few weeks leading up to Christmas as people come to terms with what has been a truly dreadful event."

Mayor of Newry and Mourne, Colman Burns, said the news "had caused great shock and despair throughout the community".

The road is expected to remain closed for several hours.

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