Kegworth disaster families and survivors mark 30 years since plane crash

Survivors and families of some of the 47 people killed in the Kegworth air disaster have attended a church service and wreath-laying ceremony to mark 30 years since the tragedy.

The British Midland Boeing 737 was travelling to Belfast when it suffered engine trouble and came down on an embankment on the M1 in 1989.

Wreaths were laid by families, emergency services, councils and others at a memorial site in the Leicestershire village on Tuesday.

Kegworth memorial
The Belfast-bound British Midland Boeing 737 crashed on an embankment of the M1 at Kegworth on the night of January 8 1989 (Michael Stephens/PA)

Before the wreath-laying, the names of those who died were read out during a 45-minute church service, followed by a minute’s silence.

Around 300 people attended the service, which was led by Reverend Lauretta Wilson, during which hymns were sung, prayers were read and candles were lit.

Some of those who had flown from Northern Ireland to attend the commemorations wiped away tears as people paid their respects.

Disasters and Accidents – Kegworth Air Disaster – M1, Leicestershire
The tail section of the plane wreck on the M1 embankment (PA)

Opening the commemorations, Rev Wilson said: “Kegworth has never forgotten that fateful night on January 8 1989.

“Whatever our motivations, it is good to have the opportunity to remember and honour those who lost their lives.

“The dreadful event shook all of our communities.”

The plane, with 126 people on board, had taken off from Heathrow just before 8pm on January 8.

Loud bangs were heard coming from the left-hand engine as an evening meal was being served to the 118 passengers.

But Captain Kevin Hunt and his co-pilot, David McClelland, shut down the correctly-working right-hand engine and efforts to make an emergency landing at East Midlands Airport failed.

Instead, the plane, which was on fire and had blazing debris dropping from it, came down on the M1 embankment with the runway at East Midlands Airport only a few hundred yards away.

Disasters and Accidents – Kegworth Air Crash – M1 – Leicestershire
Relatives of those who died left flowers at a memorial on a bridge overlooking the crash site (PA)

Despite the crash, nobody on the ground was injured and some of the passengers were able to walk away unscathed.

Most of the deaths occurred at the front of the plane but 79 people, including the two pilots, survived.

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