1. ITV Report

Rollercoaster crash to cost Alton Towers up to £47m

Alton Towers theme park in Staffordshire Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA Images

Merlin, the owner of Alton Towers, expects a drop in annual earnings for its theme parks business by as much as £47 million this year following a roller coaster crash at the Staffordshire park.

The group said the crash has had "an adverse impact on trading at the start of the critical summer period" as well as for its financial performance for the full year, and could also hit results next year.

Underlying earnings for the theme park division are expected to fall from £87 million in 2014 to between £40 million and £50 million this year.

The financial implications are a result of an accident which caused five people to be seriously injured on June 2.

Following the crash, the park was shut for four days, along with a suspension of theme park marketing and further ride closures due to health and safety concerns.

Two of the victims of the crash, Leah Washington and Vicky Balch, had a leg amputated below the knee as a result of their terrible injuries.

Leah's boyfriend, Joe Pugh, suffered two shattered knees and has lost the use of one of his fingers.

Leah Washington, 17, had her left leg amputated after the crash. Credit: Leah Washington/Facebook

The magnitude of the financial impact is the result of both a significant reduction in revenue and the requirement to maintain an appropriate investment in customer service and marketing through peak season.

Although difficult to assess at this stage, we believe that there may be some continued adverse impact on the resort theme parks operating group profitability in 2016.

– Merlin statement

However, the group, which also operates attractions such as Madame Tussauds and Legoland parks, is expected to see profit before tax "broadly in line" with last year at £249 million after savings in financing and other costs.

The accident at Alton Towers in June was a devastating event, for which we have accepted responsibility and are deeply sorry.

We have been humbled by the grace and fortitude of those who were injured, and their families, and will continue to do whatever we can to support them.

As a result of the accident, we took the immediate decision to close the park and temporarily suspend a number of rides across the UK Resort Theme Parks estate.

Alton Towers Resort was reopened on 8 June 2015, but as a result of the material loss of momentum, trading at the park and, to a lesser extent, the broader UK Resort Theme Parks estate has been adversely impacted.

– Merlin chief executive Nick Varney

Despite Merlin's International parks achieving a strong financial performance, the London sites were hit by lower visitor numbers.

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