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  1. ITV Report

Why did British Midland plane crash on the M1 near Kegworth?

The shattered fuselage on the embankment of the M1 at Kegworth Photo: PA

Today marks 25 years since 47 people died, and 74 were seriously injured, when a British Midland Boeing 737 crashed on the embankment of the M1 near Kegworth in Leicestershire.

Flight BD 092 took off from Heathrow at 7:52pm on January 8 1989 bound for Belfast, with 126 people on board, but was diverted to East Midlands Airport after the pilot reported engine trouble.

The problem was a broken fan blade in the left engine which caused a pounding noise, vibration and smoke.

Confusion about which engine had dropped out led to Captain Kevin Hunt and his co-pilot David McClelland shutting down the right engine, leaving the plane gliding.

For a while the smoke was reduced but on final approach to the East Midlands more fuel was pumped into the damaged engine to keep the speed up and it burst into flames.

The fuselage broke into three pieces upon impact into the M1 embankment. Credit: PA

The pilot managed to avoid the village of Kegworth but didn't make it to the runway.

Flight BD 092's tail bounced off the ground about a quarter of a mile from the beginning of East Midlands Airport runway, before it crashed into the embankment of the northbound carriageway of the M1 motorway.

View from the top of the motorway embankment into the broken fuselage Credit: PA

In an interview with the BBC, crash survivor Mervyn Finlay, a bread delivery man from Dungannon, described the atmosphere on board the plane after impact.

At this time it's dark outside. I can see the lines of lights down below from roads and this thing suddenly lurches and there's a big bang. And then there's another big bang.

At that point it started lurching around all over the sky. That was horrendous and my skin just absolutely crawled because … we weren't anywhere near the ground.

– MERVYN FINLAY, SURVIVOR

In an astonishing stroke of luck, no vehicles were travelling on that section of the motorway when the plane came down.

The fuselage broke into three sections on impact, immediately killing more than 30 of the people on board.

Most of the deaths occurred at the front of the plane, but 79 people, including the two pilots, survived.

AA patrolmen arriving in the scene spoke at the time of "complete devastation with seats and bodies piled up everywhere".

A crane moves a piece of the plane from the site Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Firefighters who had been alerted to the mechanical problems were waiting for the flight to land at East Midlands Airport.

When they saw the cloud of smoke, they fought through trees and bushes at the edge of the runway to reach the wreckage.

Firefighter Jez Noon was one of the first on the scene, and described the moment he first entered the shattered fuselage.

"All the luggage cases and inner lining of the aircraft had all become detached, and the actual gangway down was full of debris, and we had to pull all of that out of the way to walk through the aircraft.

I remember a lot of electrical cable coming down where the fuselage had split, it was a scene of devastation really"

Rescue workers at the scene of the crash on January 8 1989 Credit: PA

Today a memorial service was held to mark 25 years since the Kegworth air disaster, and pay tribute to those who lost their lives, and those whose lives it changed forever.

The Prayers were led by the Rev Gill Turner-Callis.at St Andrew's Church in the village.

A councillor lays a wreath at Whatton Road Cemetery in Kegworth in 1999 on the 10th anniversary Credit: PA

A memorial stone in Kegworth Cemetery was erected by the parish council "to those who died, those who were injured and those who took part in the rescue operation".

After the crash it was found passengers had adopted an incorrect or ineffective brace position, which led to international reforms in emergency landing safety advice.