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Smiler rollercoaster reopens at Alton Towers after 32 people get stuck on ride

Published 01/09/2016

The Smiler ride at Alton Towers in Staffordshire
The Smiler ride at Alton Towers in Staffordshire

More than 30 thrill-seekers were left stuck on a rollercoaster at Alton Towers, just over a year after it crashed and seriously injured five people.

Theme park visitors were left sitting on the £18 million Smiler ride at the Staffordshire attraction for around half an hour on Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the resort said there had been a "temporary stoppage", but none of the 32 people suffered any injuries.

She added that the ride had reopened at about 4.20pm.

The incident comes 15 months after a major crash on the Smiler on June 2 2015 in which five people were seriously injured.

An investigation found that a computer block stopping the ride because of a stationary car on the track had been over-ridden by staff, causing the crash.

As a result, the full carriage ploughed into the rear of the empty car, leaving two women needing leg amputations.

Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd admitted a breach of health and safety rules over the incident.

Images on social media appeared to show the ride in a stationary position on its way up what looks like a vertical track, with people in their seats facing up towards the sky during Thursday's incident.

Liam Dennett, 33, from Cheltenham, was in the queue for the ride when an announcement was made about a "technical fault".

He posted videos on Facebook showing the people stuck on the rollercoaster.

Mr Dennett told the Press Association: "The ride's still closed now. We can see it in the distance that it's still closed. I would say between 30 and probably 35/40 minutes that they were stuck for."

He said he would not go on the ride after seeing what happened.

"My son still wants to go on it, but I wouldn't go on it personally now," he said.

Andy Corney from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, was at the park with his family for a week's break.

He missed Thursday's drama, but said that he had queued to get on the ride on Saturday for an hour and a half, before a reported technical breakdown saw the rollercoaster closed.

Mr Corney said: "We were told there was a short delay, some technical issues and everyone was working hard to resolve those issues, and then there was another announcement that came a little bit later on saying there was more, and that it was taking longer to resolve.

"Then after about an hour and a half of waiting in the queue with that really annoying music blasting in your ears, we were told it was cancelled and that the ride would be closed."

He added: "My experience of the Smiler is that it happens quite a lot.

"This time last year I was able to get on The Smiler, but when we went around the next day it was closed for technical reasons - and actually remained closed all week and this was actually before the incident last year."

An Alton Towers spokeswoman said: "The Smiler remained closed for a short period to investigate the matter, which is part of our standard process in assessing minor incidents.

"The technical team have declared the ride safe and The Smiler re-opened at 16.22pm.

"It takes as long as it is required to remove guests safely and in accordance with our procedures, which in this instance was approximately 30 minutes.

"The health and safety of our guests remains of paramount priority."

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