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Revellers killed in coach 'tragedy'
Three people have been killed and 50 injured, some of them seriously, as a coach returning from a music festival overturned after hitting a tree on an embankment.
Emergency services were working at the scene to remove the dead from the coach which was heading back to the Merseyside area following the Bestival event on the Isle of Wight.
Police said the coach was travelling north on the A3 near Hindhead in Surrey at 11.50pm on Monday night when it left the road between the Hindhead tunnel and the exit for Thursley. No other vehicles are believed to have been involved.
Three people aboard, including the driver, were declared dead at the scene and a fourth passenger was airlifted to Southampton General Hospital with life-changing injuries, Surrey Police said.
South East Coast Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) said 50 people from the coach - all the survivors - were taken to hospitals around the region, some of them with serious injuries. Inspector Richard Mallett, of Surrey Police, briefing reporters at the scene, said it was not believed that road conditions or the weather were a factor in the crash.
Casualties were taken to the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, St Peter's Hospital in Chertsey, St George's Hospital in Tooting, King's College Hospital in London, Frimley Park Hospital and Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth.
The coach is understood to have been operated by the company MerseyPride and Surrey Police are working with their counterparts in Merseyside, as well as with the company, to identify the passengers and notify relatives. Some passengers were taken to a rest centre set up nearby by Waverley Council.
Surrey Police Assistant Chief Constable Jerry Kirkby said: "Our thoughts remain with the relatives of the dead and the injured at this time and we are working very hard to notify their next of kin."
The road is expected to remain closed for several hours and diversions have been put in place. Motorists are being asked to avoid the area until the road reopens.
Speaking outside the company depot in Speke, Liverpool, owner David Hannell said: "Further to the news of one of our vehicles being involved in a tragic accident on the return journey from the Isle of Wight festival, myself and the company offer our heartfelt sympathy to all the families of the passengers involved. We ourselves are devastated. I've been up all night worried sick about what's been happening."