Five Britons die after car plunges from bridge into Stockholm canal


Five Britons have died when their car plunged through the barrier of an open bridge into a canal in Sweden.

The men, who are understood to be members of band Viola Beach, were killed in the Sodertalje area of the capital Stockholm on Saturday.

Local police said divers recovered the bodies of the victims - aged between 20 and 35 - after the vehicle plunged more than 25m (82ft) through a gap in the bridge which had opened to let a boat pass underneath.

Tributes have been paid on social media for the four-piece band who were from Warrington, Cheshire. Manager Craig Tarry is understood to be the fifth person in the car.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that five British nationals died in a car accident in Sweden on February 13.

"We are in contact with local authorities and supporting the families at this very difficult time".

The bridge, at the Saltskogs junction between the E4 and the E20 motorways, has a middle section that rises directly upwards without tilting, leaving a gap that the Nissan Qashqai drove into, Swedish police said.

A barrier, 50m before the opening, has flashing lights and signs warning there is a bridge opening, the officer handling the case said.

Inspector Martin Bergholm said: "For some reason, the car drove through the barriers and crashed down into the canal."

Drivers of other cars were waiting behind the barrier but it is not yet known whether a boat had already passed or was waiting to pass.

Mr Bergholm added: "The witnesses just saw a car beside them and kind of disappear."

He said it was not yet known whether the men were wearing seatbelts but added: "That would not have helped them."

Police received a call at about 2.30am and were first to arrive on the scene, a "maximum five minutes" later.

Mr Bergholm said: "Police arrived first, then the fire brigade who came with fire brigade divers at the scene and found the car and three bodies.

"We didn't know how many people there were in the car but we found out there were five. Later on, about an hour later, the police divers came and found two more bodies."

The men were identified using the passports they had on them and Swedish police are working with the Foreign Office global response centre.

He said the case would be transferred to a specialist traffic incident team on Monday. Dates for the post-mortem examination have not yet been confirmed.

British band The Enemy wrote on social media: "RIP Viola Beach and their manager. Such incredibly tragic and sad news. Thought with the friends and families of all involved x."

The up-and-coming band were on tour and due to play a string of dates at venues across the UK. They were scheduled to play at the Boiler Room in Guildford on Saturday but the gig was cancelled.