Seven people have died and many are injured after one of the worst pile-ups in British history happened earlier today on the M5 motorway near Taunton in Somerset. Police have confirmed at least 34 vehicles crashed into each other on the northbound side of the motorway, causing several cars to explode. At least seven people are dead with at least 51 more injured, some seriously. It is thought that heavy fog and rain contributed to the accident.
At least six heavy goods vehicles were involved in the crash, with several on fire. Police confirmed that up to forty people have been taken to hospital, ten of whom are said to have “extremely serious injuries”. Due to some flooding in the area earlier in the day, caused by heavy rain, the emergency services were already stretched to the limit. While fire crews tried to get drivers out of the wreckage of several flaming vehicles, other people did what they could to help, including prying doors open to save trapped passengers. Traffic on the road was higher than normal at the time due to Bridgewater Carnival and a fireworks display taking place nearby. The crash caused traffic backups of up to 20 miles and police have warned that the entire motorway between junction 24 and 25, where the crash took place, will remain closed for at least another 24 hours.
Fifteen fire crews, from Somerset and the surrounding areas, attended the scene. The Assistant Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police, Anthony Bangham said: “The incident was very, very challenging and on arrival crews were faced with literally one massive fireball. Most vehicles were well alight and most continued to burn for a considerable time. This made it very difficult to search the vehicles. Some of them have been burned to the ground.”