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Relief As Paddington Victim’s Phones Stop Ringing

Three days after the Paddington rail crash in England, the mobile telephones inside the carriages may have finally stopped ringing. This provides some relief for the search teams, but not much. John Howard reports.

Rescuers are weeping openly at the scenes they find inside the dozen carriages from which more than 30 bodies have now been recovered. Others, who have witnessed the atrocities of Kosovo and East Timor, are finding the work equally grim.

Metropolitan police and British Transport police search teams are among the specialist units swarming over the wreckage and trackside in a bewildering way. Tears are streaming down their faces.

PC Derek Worsfold, a white-helmeted transport policeman, said "We were here from day one. Yesterday we were searching carriages for personal possessions and evidence. Today it has been worse because today we are in carriages where there were injuries."

His voice breaking as he stood just millimetres from the scene of the crash, he said: "We found all sorts of purses, wallets, indentity cards..." Then, able to perform the work but unable to talk about it, he began crying and muttered; "I can't talk, I just can't do it" and he walked back into the horror. Just then, another mobile phone rang.

Inspector Steve Gregory of the Metro Police body recovery team said "On the first couple of days the mobile phones were ringing but rescuers were ordered not to answer them."

But occasionally an unfound phone still rings putting everyone's nerves on edge once again.

Many of the bodies were recovered on the first day. Only carriage H, devastated by fire, remains unexplored and Inspector Gregory believes a team of pathologists will lead the search of that.

All of Inspector Gregory's team have, like him, been to Kosovo on mass grave excavations, However, the two experiences "just don't compare", he said.

Then everyone jumped as another phone shrilled into the night.


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