Manchester

Manchester Airport disaster memorial to be unveiled in August

British Airtours disaster Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The runway disaster led to many changes in air travel saftey procedures

A new memorial is to be unveiled in tribute to 55 people who died in a 1985 disaster at Manchester Airport.

Fifty-three passengers and two crew were killed when a blaze broke out in the British Airtours jet bound for Corfu, on 22 August that year.

The pilot abandoned take-off, but passengers were left trapped as flames engulfed the rear of the plane.

The 5m (16ft) tall wooden structure will be presented during a remembrance service at the airport on 22 August.

The disaster led to significant changes in air travel, including the implementation of fire resistant seat covers.

Most of the victims died from the effects of smoke inhalation as passengers tried to escape.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Fifty-five people died following the fire, which started in an engine

However, many were impeded by the seats' layout and the narrow width of the exits.

In 2015, following the 30th anniversary of the disaster, families of the victims received an apology from the airport "for their loss" and the "memories they have had to live with".

They were consulted on the design of the new memorial, after they felt a previous plaque memorial was an inadequate tribute to their loved ones.

The families said they would prefer to keep the precise appearance of the new memorial to themselves until the unveiling.

Image caption The new memorial will be more substantial than the current plaque tribute

It is being built next to a tree that was planted to mark the anniversary.

William and Linda Beckett, whose 18-year-old daughter Sarah died following the fire, said: "I can assure you it's very moving and Manchester Airport have acknowledged that it's now part of a legacy, and in a sense we can all move forward.

"The memorial must always act as a constant reminder of the importance of airline passenger safety."

John Beardmore, who managed to escape with his family, said many survivors pledged at the time of the disaster that the victims' lives would not be "lost in vain".

Airport chief executive Andrew Cowan said the disaster "had a significant impact on the airport at the time and still does to this day".

He added: "It is only right that there is a suitable memorial."

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