Seventeen elderly people hurt, nine seriously, in bus crash near Norwich airport

More than a dozen people have been hurt, nine of them seriously, after a bus crash in Norwich on Christmas Eve.

Emergency services attended the single vehicle serious road traffic collision at Horsham St Faith at about 3.40pm.

Some of the passengers were believed to have been trapped, but by 5.15pm they had been been released.

Paramedics said 17 were taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, nine of them suffering from what have been described as serious, but not life-threatening, injuries, such as broken bones, fractures, bruises and bumps. The rest suffered minor injuries.

The remaining passengers were initially taken to a community centre, but have now been transported to a hotel, where it is thought they will stay overnight.

The crash, involving a single-decker coach, happened at about 3.40pm on the A140 Cromer Road close to Hart's Hill Farm. Police are not yet sure why the bus veered off the road and turned on to its right hand side.

The coach was returning to Norwich following a Christmas tour of north Norfolk, including Cromer and North Walsham.

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One of the elderly people on the bus said she had been asleep when 'suddenly the coach flipped over'.

Approximately 49 people were on board, one of them the driver.

Norfolk Police said those on board the single-decker coach, which crashed close to Hart's Hill Farm, were mainly elderly.

The road was due to be closed for most of the evening with diversions in place through Horsford.

A member of the East of England Ambulance Service's control room staff said as the incident unfolded: 'A bus has overturned, with persons trapped, and efforts are being made to extricate them.'

The medical team from Anglia One, the air ambulance serving Suffolk and Norfolk, was also called to the scene.

Its clinical team of Dr Pam Chrispin and East of England Critical Care Paramedic Andy Downes then worked with road crews to assess the passengers.

Dr Chrispin said: 'This was a major incident but, forunately, all of those on board the coach were wearing their seatbelts and this certainly reduced both the number and seriousness of injuries received. We wish all those affected a speedy recovery.'

Five ambulances and three rapid response vehicles were sent to the scene, she added.

Horsham St Faith Social Club was opened as a location to provide support to the non-injured passengers. A coach and minibus were used to transport the uninjured away from the area, which was cordoned off by police.

By 6.30pm a bus had arrived to take the walking wounded away from the club.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman, who was at the scene, said the vehicle was on its side.

He said: 'A major incident has been declared. Those injured have been taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

'Those who appeared uninjured were taken to the local village hall to be checked over there. As far as we can tell at the moment there have been no fatalities.'

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service sent three fire engines, from Sprowston, Earlham and Norwich and a search and rescue team from Wymondham. A spokesman said it used hydraulic equipment to help rescue 41 of the passengers.

The coach company involved is Galloway Travel of Stowmarket.

The company is making provision to contact next of kin to inform them, police said. A vehicle recovery company has been called to take the vehicle away from the scene.

A spokesman for the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK said the coach had been travelling from Holt to Norwich as part of a Christmas tour around Norfolk which had been due to finish on December 27,

An investigation into the cause of the collision is underway and police are appealing for witnesses.

Any witnesses should contact Norfolk Constabulary on 0845 4564567.

Did you witness the crash or know any of the people involved? Do you have any pictures or video? Contact Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk