Emergency services battle 'tunnel crisis': the Dartford Tunnel came to a standstill as 700 staff from the emergency services in Kent and Essex and the Highways Agency took part in a full-scale emergency exercise.(Special Services)(Cover story)

THE EXERCISE, CALLED ORPHEUS, inside the crossing's north-bound tunnel, was the result of nine months of planning designed to test the procedures in place for a real-life incident. The disaster scenario unfolded in the west tunnel while the east tunnel was dosed to allow access to emergency crews.

The exercise, devised by Kent Fire and Rescue Service, involved a lorry carrying tyres hitting the tunnel wall causing a fire and creating clouds of smoke.

In a separate incident, a milk tanker jack-knifed across the tunnel, creating a pile-up of vehicles behind it, including a double-decker bus.

While firefighters battled the fire and freed mock-passengers from cars, paramedics assisted the walking wounded and dealt with casualties and two fatalities. …

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