Three dead after car rally crashes

Banbury Cake: Police have cancelled the Jim Clark Rally after a crash Police have cancelled the Jim Clark Rally after a crash

Three people were killed and six injured when cars collided with spectators in two different crashes at a motor rally.

The crashes, all involving adults, happened within hours of each other at the Jim Clark Rally in the Scottish Borders.

Police said the most serious crash took place at about 4pm at Little Swinton, near Coldstream, when a rally car came off the road and hit spectators.

Three of them - one woman and two men - were pronounced dead at the scene, while another man was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in a critical condition.

Two hours earlier, a rally car left the road and struck five people - one woman and four men - near Crosshall Farm on the Eccles stage of the competition.

Three of the men were taken to Borders General Hospital but one was then moved to an intensive care unit in Edinburgh.

The remaining two spectators were treated for minor injuries.

The drivers are understood not to have been injured.

Official confirmation of the crashes came almost seven hours after the first collision.

Superintendent Phil O'Kane said: "I'd like to offer my condolences from Police Scotland, Scottish Borders Council and the organisers of the Jim Clark Rally for the tragic circumstances that bring us here."

He said the rally was cancelled after the fatal crash, and the Eccles stage was suspended after the first crash.

He was unable to give further details about the dead or injured spectators.

Questions remain about where people were standing and how the cars left the road.

Mr O'Kane said responsibility for safety rests with the rally's organising committee.

"But I do know it is well stewarded, safety is a very big consideration in the planning of it," he said.

Eyewitnesses to the fatal crash described "terrible" scenes.

Spectator Tony Cowan told the BBC: ''It was just one car which lost control. It went sideways one way and then to the other side of the road and ploughed into four people.

''It was terrible, absolutely terrible. I ran to help but there was little I could do. The air ambulance arrived after about three quarters of an hour. There were police cars and ambulances. It was chaos, just chaos.''

Another spectator, Tommy Tait, wrote on Facebook: ''We must be like cats have nine lives never have we been so close to getting wiped out by a rally car our thoughts go out to the 4 who got hit.''

Others on social media had earlier posted pictures and comments about the rally.

One person commented on "brave" people sitting on a verge close to a junction at Eccles.

Scores of others left messages of condolence on the Jim Clark Rally website.

The racing competition takes place over three days on closed roads in the Duns and Kelso areas.

The rally is named after Scottish Formula One driver Jim Clark, who grew up in the area. He was killed in a motor racing accident in Hockenheim, Germany, in 1968.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said: "This is desperately sad and difficult news from the Borders of the tragic circumstances that have occurred at the Jim Clark Rally.

"The police have confirmed three fatalities and my thoughts are with all of those involved and the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives.

"The government is in contact with Police Scotland and we await the outcome of their inquiries.

"The Jim Clark Rally is a long-standing event of over 40 years. It is much loved in the Borders and by the rally driving community who I know will share in our sadness at what is a black day for the Borders and for Scotland."

Local MSP John Lamont said: "This is tragic news for the Borders, and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

"I know that the rally organisers place considerable emphasis on the safety of the spectators and drivers but with any event of this nature, there will always be an element of risk.

"I live just a few miles away from the scene of the accident and I know that everyone is shocked and saddened by this dreadful news."

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