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Merlin Attractions Operations, the owner of Alton Towers, has been fined £5 million for the crash that saw 16 people injured, five seriously, including two teenagers who needed leg amputations.

The Smiler rollercoaster crash on 2 June last year was described to be similar to a 90mph car accident.

The theme park originally said that crash was down to “human error” as staff misunderstood the message to shut down the rollercoaster and reported its investigation found no mechanical or technical issues.

However, prosecutors argue that the blame lies with the employer and not individuals.

Judge Michael Chambers QC described the crash as a "catastrophic failure" and said human error was not the cause as was first suggested. He said the crash was “a needless and avoidable accident in which those who were injured were lucky not to be killed.”

Vicky Balch and Leah Washington, who each lost a leg, were at Stafford crown court on Tuesday along with others who were seriously injured in the rollercoaster.

Chambers added: “It was, in my judgment, aggravated by the lack of proper emergency access to the accident site which meant that those injured remained trapped in great pain and distress hanging at an angle of 45 degrees some 20 feet above the ground for four to five hours before being released by the emergency services and taken to hospital.”

One month after the crash, Merlin said that it could cost the theme park nearly £50 million.