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Kegworth air disaster: 30th anniversary service to be held

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Media captionThe Kegworth plane crash happened on 8 January 1989

A service to mark the 30th anniversary of the Kegworth air disaster, in which 47 people died, is to be held later.

A Boeing 737, carrying 126 people, crashed into the embankment of the M1 in Leicestershire, on 8 January 1989, during an emergency landing.

British Midland flight 92 had been diverted to East Midlands Airport after leaving Heathrow for Belfast.

A memorial service for those who died is due to be held at St Andrew’s Church, Kegworth, at 11:00 GMT.

Survivors and the families of those who died have been invited, along with members of the emergency services who were first at the scene when the aircraft crashed.

Image caption

The pilots shut down the wrong engine and the plane crashed on the M1 in Leicestershire

Among them will be Bob Salter, a former duty sergeant, who was patrolling the M1 when the tragedy unfolded.

He said: “[The plane] was on fire when it bounced over the embankment on one side, hit the central reservation, took out a lamp post, then struck the central reservation and ended up on the other embankment where it broke up.”

He and two other officers helped people out of the wreckage.

Kegworth crash survivors’ stories

The survivor who is still recovering

Mr Salter also discovered Captain Kevin Hunt unconscious and his co-pilot David McClelland who was also badly injured – both survived.

“There was silence apart from the aircraft, which was still settling into the embankment with some creaking of metal work,” he said.

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Media captionNews of the plane crash was broken on BBC Two by Michael Buerk

He praised the emergency services and members of the public who helped at the scene.

Clive Sparling was a 20-year-old Leicestershire police constable when he was deployed to the scene of the crash.

“I saw first hand the absolute devastation. It was hard to take in,” he said.

Mr Sparling, who is a civilian resource planner with the force, said he worked for 26 hours straight assisting other emergency service staff.

Most of the people on board were from Northern Ireland and some are still suffering from the injuries they sustained in the crash.

The service, which has been organised by Kegworth Parish Council, will precede a walk to Kegworth Cemetery where wreaths will be laid.

Timeline – British Midland Flight 92

  • British Midland Flight 92 crashed into the M1 about 45 minutes after taking off from Heathrow.
  • It was travelling at about 130mph (209kmph), when it hit a field on the southbound side of the motorway before plunging through trees and smashing into the embankment on the opposite carriageway.
  • The front section of the plane – carrying about 15 people – broke away from the main body on impact.
  • Inside, all but one overhead locker sprang open and luggage flew through the air, causing head injuries to almost every passenger, and killing some of them.
  • Chairs shot forward, crushing people between the seats and causing horrendous leg wounds.
  • The plane had come down yards from the village of Kegworth, just a few hundred feet short of the runway at East Midlands Airport.
  • Moments earlier, two motorists had seen sparks flying from the jet as it descended towards them. Realising it was about to crash, they managed to slow traffic using their hazard-warning lights.

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