Village to mark 25th anniversary of Kegworth air disaster

Aftermath of the air disaster on the M1 motorway at Kegworth in Leicestershire Credit: PA Wire

The village of Kegworth is marking the 25th anniversary of a fatal air disaster with which its name will always be associated.

On 8th January 1989, a British Midland flight from Heathrow to Belfast crashed into an embankment on the M1 motorway after attempting an emergency landing.

Of the 126 people on board, 47 died and a further 74 were injured.

The Boeing 747 experienced problems soon after taking off from Heathrow Airport.

A loud bang from one of the engines sent a ripple of panic through the aircraft, especially as some passengers could see sparks flying from the jet.

Rescue workers try to reach survivors in the wreckage of the plane Credit: Ross Kinnaird/EMPICS Sport

Mervyn Finlay, a bread delivery man from Dungannon, later described the atmosphere on board the plane in a BBC interview:

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.

The wreckage of the British Midland Boeing 737 Credit: Ross Kinnaird/EMPICS Sport

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

Its tail bounced off the ground about a quarter of a mile from the beginning of East Midlands Airport runway, before it crashed into an embankment on the M1 motorway.

Prime Minister Mrs Thatcher (c) visits the site of the crash Credit: Ross Kinnaird/EMPICS Sport

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.

Civil Aviation Authority crash investigators inspect the plane Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

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".

Firefighters at the scene of the air disaster Credit: PA/PA Wire

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.

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

At Derbyshire Royal Infirmary a major accident was put into operation. A medical flying squad of 16 doctors and nurses travelled to the scene to treat survivors.

Surgeons carried out more than 80 operations during the first 36 hours after the crash.

Relatives of people who died leave flowers at a memorial on a bridge overlooking the crash site Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

A memorial 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".

A councillor lays a wreath at Whatton Road Cemetery in Kegworth today on the 10th anniversary Credit: David Jones/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Prayers at St Andrew's are being said today by the rector, the Rev Gill Turner-Callis.