Page last updated at 19:08 GMT, Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Shock as witnesses see air crash

Scene of air crash
Smoke could be seen coming from the dunes near Porthcawl


Eye witnesses have reported how they saw two light aircraft colliding mid air killing four of the occupants.

The crash happened in the skies above Porthcawl, Bridgend county, with the wreckage landing in sand dunes near Kenfig nature reserve.

Reena Callingham told the BBC News website she saw the planes collide as she was putting out her washing.

Another eye witness said a section of wing had hit a garage and smoke could be seen from the dunes.

The emergency services have launched an inquiry along with the Air Accidents Investigation Branch into what happened on Wednesday at around 1100 GMT.

Police are appealing for people who saw what happened to get in touch.

Jon Kay reports on the crash

Ms Callingham said: "I was in the garden putting the clothes on the line and I could hear a light aircraft.

"I looked up because I couldn't see it and thought to myself that it was high up.

"And then I could hear another one and I could see that one too and I thought to myself that I didn't realise they flew so close together.

"I watched them for a few minutes and then the second one just hit him.

"I just couldn't believe it. At first there wasn't an explosion straight away but then there was. They just went down.

"I couldn't speak and I rang the police. My heart is still beating so hard, it was a big shock. You can see smoke now but I don't know exactly where they are."

Deputy mayor of Bridgend council Jeff Tildesley went to the sand dunes at Mawdlam shortly after the crash.

At the time he said: "I am able to see some evidence of the aeroplane wreckage surrounded by police vehicles, we have heard the pilot jumped out.

"I am only able to see the wreckage of one plane.

Emergency services at the scene
The wreckage landed in sand dunes near a nature reserve

"I am on the wall of St Mary Magdalene church. There are lots of vehicles here and police have set up a diversion, I am able to see further in the distance where there is one ambulances and two fire engines, I can hear the sirens."

Cliff Allen, 76, witnessed the mid-air collision as he set out on his morning walk.

Mr Allen, who lives in the nearby village of Ton Kenfig, said: "I was looking up at two small planes in the sky and suddenly heard an enormous bang.

"One of the planes went into a nosedive and spiralled down out of sight. I went over to the scene with a neighbour straight away and at that point only park rangers had arrived.

"There was a big hole where one of the planes had hit the ground."

He said small light aircraft frequently flew over the area for training purposes.

Landlord of the Prince of Wales Gareth Maund, whose pub was used by the police as a temporary base, told how he was told the news by his son.

Superintendent Tim Jones explains the investigation so far

"I first heard about it when my son phoned and said a plane was down," he said.

"I can see very little from here, there is debris in the fields.

"Search and rescue helicopters have been going round the fields."

He explained how onlookers from the surrounding area made their way to the scene.

"There are lot of shocked people here," he added.

Leigh Griffiths, 36, a carpenter from Kenfig Hill near Bridgend, was working in a house next to the Prince of Wales Pub when he heard a "big wallop".

"There was a section of wing that had hit the garage, so we ran out. What we found was another piece of debris," he said.

"We saw the smoke coming from the dunes."

He and a friend ran over, and other people were already at the scene.

He said they had found a body.

"Somebody said there was a second plane and we had seen the debris so we ran, hoping we could do something," he said.

He said another body had been found there.

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