Shoreham Airshow crash: Death toll could reach 20 after the Hawker Hunter airplane crash on A27, say police

 
Clara Guibourg
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Many lay flowers by the site of the crash (Source: Getty)

Police have warned that as many as 20 people could have been killed when a Hawker Hunter plane crashed into the A27 on Saturday.

The 1950s plane crashed into several cars and motorbikes as the pilot attempted a loop-the-loop during the Shoreham Airshow on Saturday afternoon.

Initially it was feared that seven people had died, but the death toll was raised to 11 last night. This morning police said that number could be increased further still.

Assistant chief constable Steve Barry of Sussex Police, said: " The number of highly likely dead remains at 11, but may rise. However, we do not expect that figure to be greater than 20, probably fewer. "

The wreckage of the fighter jet is due to be removed from the A27 later today, and local authorities are urging people to avoid the area if possible.

Barry said: "We have now started the task of clearing the scene of an air crash at Shoreham-by-Sea in Sussex that happened on Saturday afternoon. An investigation, jointly run by the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), has commenced with the recovery from the scene of those who have died.

"This has been an enormously traumatic incident and our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the incident, from those who have suffered bereavement to those in the local community who are deeply shocked. I would like to pay tribute to colleagues in all of the emergency services, partner agencies and the organisers whose compassion and professionalism in the most extreme of circumstances has been widely commented upon."
He added: "The scene of the incident is a large one, extending around 400 yards along the A27 and spilling off to the sides and just partly onto the airfield itself. We do know that no-one on the airfield attending the show was injured.
"As a result of the scale of the devastation, the recovery process is necessarily complex and thorough, and the work of those undertaking it can not be understated. Removal of those who died will carry on today and is likely to continue throughout the day tomorrow. This is being undertaken by specialists from other police forces in the south-east as well as colleagues from the fire and rescue service.
"A crane will be brought in to lift the wreckage of the Hunter jet on Monday and as we have already indicated, it is quite possible that we will discover more fatalities.
"At this time, the site remains a hazardous area. Colleagues from the AAIB advise us that there is still an amount of fuel remaining on the plane and the status of its ejector seat is being determined. As a result, an air exclusion zone remains in place around the scene, but I would stress that with the cordon that has been established around the crash site, there is no risk to the local community.
"It is quite possible that the road will remain closed for several days. Following the recovery of those who have died, the scene needs to be fully investigated, the aircraft and vehicles removed and there will have to be major repairs to the highway itself.
"In the meantime, the road will remain shut and even at the weekend this is having an impact on traffic on local roads. Obviously, people do need to travel and will be returning to work on Monday, but I would ask that the further away you are able to divert around Shoreham, the better."

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