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"It was horrendous, I've never seen anything like it in my life."

Police said the most serious crash took place at about 4pm at Little Swinton, near Coldstream Photo: PA

Investigations continue today into the deaths of three rally spectators who were killed when a car ploughed into a crowd like a "bowling ball hitting skittles".

Two men and one woman were killed in what was the second of two crashes during the Jim Clark Rally in the Scottish Borders on Saturday afternoon.

They were identified by Police Scotland as Iain John Provan, 64, and Elizabeth Allan, 63, from Barrhead, near Glasgow, and 71-year-old John Leonard Stern, known as Len, from Bearsden, also near Glasgow.

Two other injured men, both 61, were in hospital last night - one in a stable condition and one in a critical but stable condition in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

The fatal accident took place at about 4pm on Saturday at Little Swinton, near Coldstream.

The three-day rally, which was due to finish on Sunday, was immediately abandoned after the fatal crash. Credit: PA

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, the top prosecutor, will receive a briefing from police investigating the crashes later today in nearby Kelso.

Colin Gracey, who has watched the rally for years from the same spot close to where the crashed happened, said the experience was "traumatic".

The 46-year-old teacher lives in nearby Swinton and was there with his family, including three children.

"We went down there, as we've been doing for about 17 years, to the same place we watch it from just up from the bridge.

I think it was the seventh car coming through and it just veered very sharply after taking the bridge and it went right into the field hitting the people who were stood there. It was shocking.

I was there with my family, my three children, and we go to the same place every year and always watch it from there. It was very traumatic.

It was like a bowling ball hitting skittles. It was awful, absolutely awful."

– Colin Gracey, witness
Police at the scene near Kelso in the Scottish Borders Credit: PA

Mr Gracey said a safety car passed through the area before the rally to tell people to stand at a safe distance.

But he said some people may have returned.

"There were at least a dozen people standing there and when it happened I thought 'my god'. It was horrendous, I've never seen anything like it in my life.

The tape marking the course was next to the hedge where normally the tape is 30 metres either side of the road into the field and effectively no one is allowed down there unless you're a steward.

We wouldn't even stand in the field. We always go a bit further up the road which is safer."

– Colin Gracey, witness

Officers from Police Scotland worked through the day at the site. Tents were erected and forensic specialists were seen filming the area.

Flowers were left in Swinton village green.

One bunch has a card which reads: "The sport that we all love is very cruel at times.

"Deepest sympathy for all concerned. With love, car 180."

Floral tributes near the scene at Little Swinton, near Coldstream Credit: PA

The three-day rally, which was due to finish on Sunday, was immediately abandoned after the fatal crash.

About 250 competitors had been taking part in the event, which is said to be one of the largest in the UK, with thousands of spectators watching the action.

Two hours before the fatal crash another car in the rally left the road and hit five people, one woman and four men, near Crosshall Farm on the Eccles stage of the competition.

Three of the men were taken to Borders General Hospital but one was then moved to an intensive care unit in Edinburgh. The remaining two spectators were treated for minor injuries.

Police said the most serious crash took place at about 4pm at Little Swinton, near Coldstream, Credit: PA

In a statement following the crash, rally organisers said:

"Our thoughts are especially with those who have lost family members and to the families of the injured spectators.

All members of the organising team are in shock and are co-operating fully with Police Scotland to establish the facts."

– Statement from the rally organisers

The rally is named after Scottish Formula One driver Jim Clark, who grew up in the area and was killed in a motor racing accident in Hockenheim, Germany, in 1968.

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