"Total carnage" with 7 dead, 50 injured as tram overturns
The driver of a tram which derailed in Croydon, south London, has been arrested, British Transport Police have said.
Seven people were confirmed to have died and more than 50 were injured in the crash that happened at around 6:10am.
Passengers remained trapped in the wreckage for hours after the vehicle overturned at a fork in the tracks as it approached the Sandilands stop in heavy rain.
Eight people were said to be in serious or life-threatening condition on Wednesday evening and officials have warned the death toll is likely to rise.
Investigators said the commuter tram was travelling at a "significantly higher speed than is permitted", and are probing whether the driver may have fallen asleep.
The 42-year-old driver, from Beckenham, is being held on suspicion of manslaughter and is currently in police custody.
Scenes on board have been described as "total carnage" and "like something out of a film" as the two-carriage tram tipped onto its side.
More than 70 firefighters, eight fire engines and four rescue units attended the scene and a Transport for London source said the area would likely be off limits into the weekend.
Initial findings of the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) show that the tram came off the tracks as it was negotiating a "sharp, left-hand curve" with a speed limit of 12mph.
Assistant Chief Police Constable Robin Smith said investigations into the cause of the accident were ongoing. "We won't know what caused the accident for some time. We have local transport police and the rail accident branch with us investigating," he said.
"What we can confirm is a number have tragically died and we expect more to follow. It's probably not right to speculate how many but a number of people have gone to local hospitals with injuries and the majority are walking wounded."
Peter McKenna, deputy director of operations for London ambulance service, said that 43 people were taken to nearby hospitals with a range of injuries.
"Fifty-one people were injured and taken to hospital. Forty-three of those were walking wounded, four had serious injuries and four had life threatening injuries. Injuries have ranged from cuts and bruises to lacerations and crush injuries," he said.
Our thoughts are with the victims and the loved ones of those affected by the tram derailment in Croydon this morning— Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) November 9, 2016
Speaking outside Croydon University Hospital, where he was being treated for fractured or broken ribs, Martin Bamford, 30, described the bloody scene inside the upturned tram.
"It was just terrifying. There was a woman that was on top of me [...] I don't think she made it at all. She wasn't responsive. There was blood everywhere," he said.
Local residents were in shock following the tragedy.
Michael Felix who lives next to the tram stop told how he woke up to a "cacophony of noise and wailing sirens" shortly after 6am.
"It's truly frightening, I take that tram all the time with my friends. It could have been one of us," he said.
One resident, who did not wish to be named, said the bend approaching the Sandilands stop is particularly treacherous. "It is a very steep bend and it was pelting down with rain this morning," she said.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said investigations would have to take place to ascertain the cause of the crash.
"This is clearly a very very distressing event. Right now it's about professionalism in dealing with the aftermath and those who have been so tragically affected and the community around them," he told reporters at the scene.
"I wish to send all my good wishes to those families and to say we need to know what went on here and learn the lessons."
Mike Brown, Transport for London's Commissioner, said his thoughts were with the bereaved.
"My thoughts are clearly with those who have been bereaved today and those who have lost their lives and the families of all of those involved and those injured in this incident.
"We are working very closely with the police, the fire brigade and ambulance services to ensure transport for London are cooperating in whatever way we can with the investigation."
It is believed to be the first tram crash involving fatalities on board since 1959, when two women passengers and the driver died after a tram caught fire in Shettlestone Road, Glasgow, following a collision with a lorry.
London Tramlink has confirmed that no services are operating between Reeves Corner and Addington Village/Harrington Road.
London mayor Sadiq Khan, who visited the scene earlier, warned the death toll "may well increase".
"My thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost loved ones in the tragic incident this morning in Croydon," he said.