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Shoreham air disaster death toll 'likely to be 11'

Published 25/08/2015

Chauffeur Maurice Abrahams, 76, is believed to have died in the Shoreham Airshow crash
Chauffeur Maurice Abrahams, 76, is believed to have died in the Shoreham Airshow crash
A giant crane removes wreckage of the plane on the A27 at Shoreham in West Sussex

The final death toll in the Shoreham air disaster is "increasingly likely" to be set at 11, police have said.

The removal of the 1950s Hawker Hunter fighter jet from the site in West Sussex where it crashed amid a fireball uncovered no further evidence of victims.

Four men have been named as among those killed, and two more have been identified as missing, following Saturday afternoon's disaster at the Shoreham Airshow.

In an update posted on YouTube, Sussex Police Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry said it was now increasingly likely the final fatality figure will be set at 11. On Monday he had suggested the death toll could rise as high as 20.

West Sussex coroner Penny Schofield has warned that identifying the victims will be a "slow and painstaking operation".

Mr Barry said: "The latest is that the aircraft has now been removed from the crash site and I'm relieved to say that no further victims were found as a result of our examination of that particular part of the scene.

"So it is now 11 people that we are classifying as highly likely as being victims of the air crash, and it's becoming increasingly likely that that will be the final figure.

"We have to urge some caution though because we haven't completed our full forensic examination of the crash site which is very extensive and there is always the possibility that some family or friends have yet to contact the police with their concerns."

The four confirmed victims include Worthing United footballers and best friends Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both 23, who were on their way to play a match when they were killed.

Personal trainer Matt Jones, 24, and former soldier Maurice Abrahams, 76, a classic car chauffeur who was going to pick up a bride for her wedding service, also died.

Motorcyclist Mark Trussler and Daniele Polito, a father from Worthing, are both missing and are feared to have been killed in the tragedy.

Mr Trussler's fiancee, Giovanna Chirico, told of her heartbreak on social media. She wrote on Facebook: "Just want u bk home - feeling heartbroken" along with four crying emojis.

A friend of Mr Jones has been inundated with offers of help after launching a social media appeal to make sure his friend has a fitting send off.

Ashlee Spooner appealed for drivers with a Toyota Celica sports car - which Mr Jones used to own - to lend their cars for his funeral.

The appeal has been shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook and motorists across Britain have offered to bring their car to the ceremony.

Posting his request with a picture of his friend's red sports car, he wrote: "My mate was killed in the Shoreham air show this weekend. This was his car a few years ago, we'd love to get it to his funeral or one that looks the same.

"If you've got the car or one that's very similar give us a message and let us know if you'd be willing to come along for the day. We'll cover your costs and feed you. Ash."

They appear to have tracked down Mr Jones' old car and hope it will be at the funeral.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced restrictions on air shows "until further notice" and on the flying of vintage jets in the wake of the crash.

Hawker Hunters have been grounded since Saturday, and displays by vintage jets over land will be limited to flypasts as 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."

The remains of the plane have been removed from the scene. They will be sent to Farnborough, Hampshire, where Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB) investigators will examine the wreckage to find out exactly what caused the crash.

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

Pilot Andrew Hill is fighting for his life and has been put into a medically induced coma following the crash.

His 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".

Highways England was unable to confirm when the key A27, which remains closed in both directions near the crash site, will reopen.

The AAIB is expected to issue its interim report in the next few days.

It is believed that the Hawker Hunter's seats were in place when it was found on the ground, which suggests that Mr Hill may not have ejected before impact.

The jet is understood to have not been carrying a black box flight recorder.

A footbridge near the scene of the crash has become a makeshift shrine to those who died, with hundreds of flower bouquets left on the walkway. More people came there to pay their respects to the victims today, with candles and banners.

Tributes to Mr Grimstone were left under a green football shirt with his name and the number one on it, while cards from Mr Schilt's family and his girlfriend, Megan Duffy, were left nearby on the bridge.

Mourners bringing more flowers included friends of Mr Jones, who wept and embraced as they stood and looked at the dozens of tributes to him. They did not wish to comment.

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