Searching has today begun of the burnt-out lead-carriage of the GWT IC 125 express that collided with a commuter
train on 5 October.
The carriage, Carriage H of the 06:03 Cheltenham - Paddington train was engulfed in flames in a fire fed by fuel from the train's power-car. It was a first-class carriage located immediately behind the power car. As the fire took hold temperatures reached 1200°C. Ash is said to be knee-high inside the carriage and no-one can be certain if there are any bodies buried beneath it.
Two pathologists from the Home Office will be involved in the search, analysing material that is found. They will be seeking evidence to help in the identification of bodies. The process will be slow and painstaking and may last for several days.
Preparations for the grim task have taken several days. Safety experts advised that the wreckage was unstable. Work to make the carriage safe has been completed and scaffolding has been erected around the carriage to help to support it. This also provides a platform from which recovery workers can reach inside as they slowly sift through the ash.
Police yesterday revised their estimate of the number of dead. They now believe that the final toll will be less than original estimates, putting the figure at 40. There are however still more than 60 people reported missing by friends and relatives and who have not yet been traced
Some carriages had been in Southall disaster
In a macabre twist, it was revealed today that a number of carriages in the GWT train had formed part of the train that was involved in the 1997 Southall disaster. The vehicles sustained only minor damage and following inspection by the HSE, they were passed as fit to re-enter service. An investigation into the Southall accident started on 20 September following long delays because of criminal prosecutions of the GWT and the train driver.
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