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Alton Towers Smiler crash: Park to reopen

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Alton Towers is to reopen for the first time since a rollercoaster crash left 16 people injured, its owners have announced.

The park will open its gates from 10:00 BST on Monday, six days after two carriages on the Smiler ride collided.

It is understood four people hurt in the crash are being treated in hospital for serious leg injuries.

Owners Merlin Entertainments Ltd said it had carried out “a thorough review” of operating and safety procedures.

And Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors have also been on site.

A number of people who had pre-booked tickets for Monday have said they will not now attend.

Student Louise Riley, who had planned to visit Alton Towers with a group of friends, said they did not want to feel “like guinea pigs” on the first day since the accident.

‘Provide support’

“We’re quite a bit nervous that other rides have been closed as well,” she said. “It makes you question the safety of all the rides.”

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Merlin Entertainments Ltd chief executive Nick Varney said Tuesday’s crash was the first accident in the company’s history and it had introduced extra safety measures at its theme parks.

Alton Towers has said anyone with pre-booked tickets could get a full refund if they did not want to visit.

Last week, a number of bed and breakfasts in the nearby village of Alton said people had cancelled bookings in the wake of the crash.

They said news that the park was reopening has prompted visitors to get in touch and they were “fairly full” for the next few weeks.

Mr Varney said Tuesday’s crash had been “a terrible event for everyone involved”.

“We are very aware of the impact it will have on those involved and we are doing all we can to provide our support to those injured and their families,” he said.

The park “closed immediately” afterwards, he added, to allow preliminary investigations and give staff “time to come to terms with the [crash] and its aftermath”.

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“Alton Towers has a long record of safe operation and as we reopen, we are committed to ensuring that the public can again visit us with confidence.”

Two more rides at Alton Towers will remain closed on Monday, Mr Varney said.

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The X-Sector of the theme park – which houses the Smiler, Enterprise and Oblivion rides- will remain shut until further notice, as part of the HSE investigation.

The Spinball ride will also be closed until enhanced safety protocols have been implemented.

Mr Varney said the design of the ride meant it would take slightly longer than it was hoped for new procedures to be put in place.

Two rides currently closed at Merlin-owned Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures, both in Surrey, are expected to reopen soon.

A prohibition notice has been served which prevents the Smiler being operated until “action is taken to deal with the cause of the failure”.

It does not affect other rides at the park.

Earlier, it emerged the two carriages which collided had been removed by the HSE to be examined in a laboratory.

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The two men and two women seriously hurt in the crash all suffered significant leg injuries.

Vicky Balch, from Leyland in Lancashire, has undergone surgery but is not in a life-threatening condition, as was previously thought, lawyers representing her said on Saturday.

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Her lawyer Paul Paxton said the family was considering legal action against the theme park, but their main focus at the moment was on her recovery.

It is thought Daniel Thorpe, 27, from Buxton, Derbyshire, underwent surgery on Thursday. The BBC understands he suffered a collapsed lung and fractured leg.

Joe Pugh, 18, of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and his girlfriend, Leah Washington, 17, are understood to have been receiving treatment at the Royal Stoke University Hospital.

Read more:https://www.bbc.com

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