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Paddington - inquests open, coroner hears that 2 fires broke out

  : Monday February 21, 2000
Inquests opened today into the deaths of 31 people who died in the Paddington rail disaster.
Paddington disaster
photo : BBC
Paddington Disaster
At the start of the hearings, held at Westminster Coroner's Court the coroner, Dr Paul Knapman told jurors that they would hear disturbing evidence.

The inquests, are to establish the cause of death of each of the victims. Dr Knapman will hear evidence about the victims' locations on the trains and receive pathologists' reports.

The accident occurred on 5 October 1999 at Ladbroke Grove just outside Paddington Station. A 3-car Thames Trains unit failed to stop at a red signal light and collided with a Great Western Trains IC 125 which was travelling in the opposite direction. In addition to those who were killed, 244 people were injured. It was the worst accident since the 1988 Clapham disaster.

Today, the coroner heard that two separate fires started after the collision. Hearing evidence from Superintendent Nicholas Bracken of the British Transport Police, the senior officer investigating the accident, Dr Knapman was told that the two trains collided at a combined speed of 100mph. Fire broke out in the front power car of the Great Western train and from fuel from the Thames train also ignited.

These hearings will not seek to address the issues of why or how the accident occurred. Answers to these questions will be sought by the Inquiry into the accident due to start on 10 May 2000 and which is to be chaired by Lord Cullen.

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This file last updated: Monday, 21-Feb-2000 14:14:50 EST
Copyright © David Fry 1999