On Air Now
Early Breakfast with James Stewart 4am - 6:30am
27 July 2018, 16:53 | Updated: 27 July 2018, 16:56
A four-year-old Italian boy was among five people killed in a crash between a minibus and a car on the A96 in the north-east of Scotland.
Police Scotland said the white Fiat minibus was carrying a group of Italian tourists, with a woman and the young boy onboard among those who died.
Three passengers in the Nissan X-Trail car, two women aged 69 and 70 and a 63-year-old man, were also killed.
Five other people, including a three-year-old Italian boy, were taken to hospital for treatment following the collision between Huntly and Keith, in Moray, shortly before midnight on Thursday.
The 39-year-old female driver of the Nissan X-Trail suffered serious injuries and is being treated at Dr Grays hospital in Elgin.
Police said the driver of the minibus, two adult passengers - a man and a woman - and a three-year-old boy were also taken to hospital with a "variety of injuries".
The woman is said to be in a critical condition at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary while the three-year-old suffered minor injuries.
The four people travelling in the X-Trail were from the local area, police said.
Road Policing Superintendent Louise Blakelock said: "The dreadful scene faced by emergency responders was both distressing and extremely challenging for everyone involved.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who made valiant attempts to save the casualties lives - their efforts cannot be underestimated.
"I would also like to thank members of the public who came upon this terrible incident, who phoned emergency services and provided first aid and comfort.
"Every loss of life on our roads is a tragedy however when so many are killed in one incident the impact of their families, their friends and our entire community is massive. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been involved or affected."
Officers are investigating the cause of the crash and have appealed for any witnesses or dashcam footage.
Earlier, Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said the A96 was one of Scotland's busiest roads and the loss of life was "difficult to take in".
He said: "This is a truly horrific accident that has shocked the community given that so many people use the A96 day-in-day-out.
"The fact that there are so many casualties has been difficult for people to take in and with such a loss of life everyone's thoughts are with those affected and their loved ones and friends at this difficult time.
"I pay tribute to the emergency services who dealt with what was a major road traffic accident.
"The A96 is the key route through Moray and anyone heading north from Aberdeen is likely to use this route.
"It's one of Scotland's busiest roads and a horrific accident of this nature with so many lives lost and people injured is difficult to take in."
Moray MP Douglas Ross tweeted: "Terrible news this morning. Five people were killed on the A96 last night and another five injured.
"Our thoughts are with all affected at this time."
A section of the A96 remains closed with local diversions in place.
Right Rev Susan Brown, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: "What can you say, when in a split second your world collapses?
"Our hearts go out to those killed and injured in the Moray road accident."