Four teenagers have been seriously injured after an Alton Towers rollercoaster carriage carrying 16 people crashed into an empty carriage.
The accident happened at around 2pm yesterday on the Staffordshire park’s 80kph Smiler ride.
Two males and two female teenagers suffered serious leg injuries in the crash, while the other 12 occupants required triage.
A ramp was built to help emergency services reach the occupants of the ride, who were approximately 25ft up in the air at an angle of around 45 degrees.
The £18m (€24.7m) rollercoaster, which boasts a world record-breaking 14 loops, has been closed on two occasions because of safety concerns since opening two years ago.
Visitors to Alton Towers reported on social media that the ride had broken down earlier yesterday.
Four air ambulances rushed to the scene together with four ambulances and several senior paramedic managers. Staffordshire Fire and Rescue said it had sent four pumps, a rescue tender, rope rescue, and an aerial ladder to the incident.
Danny Simm, a radio presenter on 96.5 Bolton FM, who witnessed the aftermath of the accident, said that a number of people appeared to be badly injured. He wrote on Twitter: “People unconscious, knocked out. Blood everywhere. It really was shocking. Air ambulances landing now, people still stuck.”
Alton Towers claims the Smiler features “a series of twisted psychological effects including optical illusions, blinding lights and near-misses designed to mess with your mind”.
In July 2013 it was closed after reports that a bolt was seen to have fallen from it and in November that year it was closed after plastic guard wheels came loose and hit riders. In may 2013, 16 journalists were stranded on the Smiler for around 30 minutes during a preview ride.
An Alton Towers spokeswoman said a “full investigation” will take place.