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Five band members die after car plunges into canal in Sweden

NewsBy Neil Fetherston
Viola Beach
Viola Beach

Five Britons have died when their car plunged into a canal in Sweden.

The deceased, who are understood to be members of band Viola Beach, were killed in the capital Stockholm on Saturday.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that five British nationals died in a car accident in Sweden on February 13.

"We are in contact with local authorities and supporting the families at this very difficult time".

Local police said divers recovered the bodies of the crash victims - who were all men - after the vehicle plunged more than 25m (82ft) from a highway bridge into the canal.

Tributes have been pouring in on social media for the band, who were from Warrington, Cheshire.

The Nissan Qashqai the group were travelling in crashed through the barrier and into the canal after the bridge had opened to let a boat pass underneath, Swedish police said.

The bridge, at the Saltskogs junction between the E4 and the E20 motorways, has a middle section that rises directly upwards without tilting, leaving a gap that the car drove into.

A barrier, 50m before the opening, has flashing lights and signs warning there is a bridge opening, the officer handling the case said.

Inspector Martin Bergholm said: "For some reason, the car drove through the barriers and crashed down into the canal."

Drivers of other cars were waiting behind the barrier but it is not yet known whether a boat had already passed or was waiting to pass.

He added: "The witnesses just saw a car beside them and kind of disappear."

Mr Bergholm said it was not yet known whether the five men, aged 20-35, were wearing seatbelts but added: "That would not have helped them."

Police received a call at about 2.30am and were first to arrive on the scene, a "maximum five minutes" later.

Mr Bergholm said: "Police arrived first, then the fire brigade who came with fire brigade divers at the scene and found the car and three bodies.

"We didn't know how many people there were in the car but we found out there were five. Later on, about an hour later, the police divers came and found two more bodies."

The men were all identified using their passports they had on them and Swedish police are working with the Foreign Office global response centre.

He said the case would be transferred to a specialist traffic incident team on Monday. Dates for the post-mortem examination have not yet been confirmed.