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Alton Towers 'to open within days', but Smiler to stay shut indefinitely after horror crash

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Alton Towers will open to the public again within days, but the Smiler rollercoaster that left four people seriously injured in a horror crash will stay shut for the foreseeable future, the theme park said today.

The Staffordshire attraction has been racking up losses of around £500,000 a day since closing after Tuesday's accident.

The four people who suffered critical injuries were airlifted to major trauma centres after the 16 occupants were rescued from 25ft (7.6m) in the air at an angle of about 45 degrees on Tuesday.

The most seriously injured have been named as Daniel Thorpe, a 27-year-old hotel assistant manager from Buxton in Derbyshire, Vicky Balch, 19, from Leyland in Lancashire, t extile design student Joe Pugh, 18, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and his girlfriend, Leah Washington, 17.

Joe Pugh and Leah Washington

"This has been a terrible experience for everyone involved and one we sincerely regret. Our thoughts remain with those who were seriously injured and we are doing everything we can to support them through this difficult time. It is an accident that should not have happened, and we are determined that it will never happen again.

Today, operator Merlin Entertainments said it was undertaking a 'thorough review and investigation' of the events that led up to the accident.

It said: "The safety of our visitors is our fundamental priority. We have a strong safety record at Alton Towers and across the Merlin Group. Today we are enhancing our safety standards by issuing an additional set of safety protocols and procedures that will reinforce the safe operation of our multi-car rollercoasters. These are effective immediately.

"Each rollercoaster has its own individual operating process and characteristics. Our central safety management team, together with local Park operations, will now work to implement and brief operating staff on these protocols. As a consequence, two rollercoaster rides have been withdrawn from service until the new safety protocols have been applied.

"The Smiler and Saw, a similar ride at Thorpe Park, have been closed since the accident and will stay closed for the foreseeable future. We intend to complete our thorough appraisal of our safety processes at Alton Towers in the near future and plan to re-open the Park to the public in the next few days."

Dragon's Fury and Rattlesnake, two rides at Chessington World of Adventure which is owned by Merlin Entertainments, have also been withdrawn from service after new safety protocols were applied.

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