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No further victims found so far as Shoreham crash jet lifted

Published 24/08/2015

Flowers laid on the Shoreham Tollbridge over the River Adur near the site where an historic Hawker Hunter fighter jet plummeted on to the A27
Flowers laid on the Shoreham Tollbridge over the River Adur near the site where an historic Hawker Hunter fighter jet plummeted on to the A27
Two shirts and floral tributes outside Worthing United Football Club

No further victims have so far been found following the lifting of the jet involved in the Shoreham air disaster, police said.

Senior officers at Sussex Police said their estimate that 11 people died in the crash on Saturday "remains in place" but warned further victims may be found.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry said: "As a result of lifting the jet, we have not discovered any evidence of further victims and our estimate of 11 highly likely victims remains in place.

"However, until we have fully completed the search of what is an extensive scene, I must caution that there is still the possibility that we may discover evidence of further victims, but I am not prepared to speculate on that figure."

As the jet was removed for forensic examination, it emerged that more than 200 people have reported concerns about missing friends and relatives since the disaster.

The latest victim to be named was the chauffeur of a Daimler wedding car, who was on his way to pick up a bride for her marriage service. He was Maurice Abrahams, 76, from Brighton.

The accident happened at 1.20pm when a 1950s Hawker Hunter fighter jet plummeted on to the A27 amid a fireball after failing to pull out of a loop-the-loop stunt.

Pilot Andrew Hill is fighting for his life after being put into a medically induced coma, while at least 11 people were killed in the crash. Police earlier said the final death toll could be up to 20.

As recovery of the wreckage and victims got under way, police revealed that the crash site now extends slightly further than the 400 yards first identified.

The jet will be sent to Farnborough in Hampshire where Air Accidents Investigation (AAIB) investigators will examine the wreckage.

Vehicles and other debris will then be removed from the scene before a second phase of checking to ensure all victims have been accounted for.

Mr Barry said: "I appreciate that things will never be the same again in Shoreham, but would like to assure everyone affected by the incident that all of us working on the operation are determined that we will provide answers to the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones and work as quickly as we can to complete our investigations and reopen the road."

The disaster prompted the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to announce restrictions on air shows "until further notice" on the flying of vintage jets.

Displays by vintage jets over land will be limited to flypasts, which means high-energy acrobatics are banned.

A statement by the regulator added: "The CAA will conduct additional risk assessments on all forthcoming civil air displays to establish if additional measures should be introduced."

Mr Hill's family said they are "devastated and deeply saddened for the loss of life" and they send their "prayers and heartfelt condolences to the families of all those affected at this difficult time".

Worthing United footballers Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both 23, and 24-year-old personal trainer Matt Jones were among those killed.

Motorcyclist Mark Trussler, from Worthing, is missing, while fears have been raised over Daniele Polito, a father from Worthing who was travelling in the same car as Mr Jones when the plane crashed.

The family of Daimler chauffeur Mr Abrahams issued a statement via the police which said: "Maurice is a well-respected and loved father and husband. He enjoyed his work chauffeuring his beloved Daimler car and he enjoyed gardening.

"He was proud to have served in the Grenadier Guards and the Parachute Regiment. He served in Cyprus and Bahrain with the UN. In his 30s he served as a police officer with Hampshire Police.

"The family would ask that its privacy is respected at this difficult time."

West Sussex coroner Penny Schofield warned that work to identify the victims would be a "slow and painstaking operation" as she appealed for the public's "patience and understanding".

She said it may take "several weeks" before all investigations are completed, adding that in the meantime family liaison officers have been assigned to bereaved relatives.

The crash has sparked calls for safety precautions at public air shows to be tightened.

Mr Grimstone's mother Sue has called for acrobatic displays to be restricted to taking place over the sea to avoid a repeat of the tragedy.

But a host of air shows are set to go ahead despite the disaster, and aviation experts said it would be wrong to ban acrobatic flying displays - insisting they are subject to rigorous safety checks.

The Royal Air Forces Association (Rafa), which organises the Shoreham Airshow in West Sussex, defended its safety record and said standards at air displays in Britain "are among the very highest in the world".

It added: "All air display arrangements, including the pilots and aircraft, must meet rigorous safety requirements and are regularly reviewed to ensure they provide the highest possible levels of protection.

"At Shoreham we have always taken those safety arrangements very seriously."

Rafa confirmed that Mr Hill was not originally meant to pilot the ill-fated plane. Chris Heames was originally listed as the pilot in the air show's programme, and it was only decided last month that Mr Hill would fly the aircraft instead.

But Rafa stressed both men are highly experienced pilots who would often swap the shows they performed at.

It said: "They shared their air show commitments between them and it was entirely routine that a change from one to the other was made - and this decision was made over a month ago. The pilot flying the Hunter on Saturday had displayed at last year's Shoreham Airshow."

Rafa said it is giving "every assistance" to the Air Accident Investigations Branch which is probing what caused the crash, but warned the investigation "will take some considerable time".

Sussex Community Foundation, on behalf of Adur District Council, West Sussex County Council and Worthing Borough Council, has opened a fund for those wishing to make a donation in support of the people and communities affected by the incident.

Donations can be made online, at; by text - text SAIR10 plus the amount you wish to donate to 70070; by telephone at Sussex Community Foundation on 01273 409446 from 9am to 5pm; and by cheque or post.

The appeal is being managed by Sussex Community Foundation, a registered charity which manages funds and gives grants to local communities in Sussex. The costs of managing the appeal are being met by Adur District and Worthing Borough councils and West Sussex County Council.

There will be no air display programme at this weekend's CarFest South event in Hampshire, organisers said.

A flypast by the Gnat Display team honouring pilot Kevin Whyman who lost his life during a display at CarFest North earlier this month is still planned to go ahead on Saturday afternoon.

There will also be a minute's silence in honour of Mr Whyman and the victims of the Shoreham Airshow crash.

Organisers of the event, created by TV and radio presenter Chris Evans, said: " This decision has been taken both as a mark of respect and in consideration of the air show review announced this morning by the Civil Aviation Authority.

"We send our heartfelt condolences to all of those affected by the terrible incident on Saturday.

"We hope to hold future air events at future festivals and would like to offer our support and good wishes to the air display community."

Mr Whyman, 35, was killed when his aircraft plummeted from the sky during an aerial display at the CarFest event in Oulton Park, Cheshire, on August 1.

Mr Whyman, an RAF-trained fast jet pilot, started flying the Folland Gnat in 2005 and was one of the founder members of the Gnat Display Team in 2007.

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