roller coaster alton towers
Four injured in Alton Towers roller coaster crash
01:28 - Source: CNN

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Two women and two men are hospitalized with leg injuries, an ambulance service says

The crash took place on "The Smiler" at Alton Towers Resort in Staffordshire

CNN  — 

A roller coaster car collided with an empty car Tuesday at a UK theme park, leaving four people with serious injuries, officials said.

The crash took place on “The Smiler” at Alton Towers Resort in Staffordshire.

Sixteen people were on the ride, according to a statement from the park. Everyone was evacuated, and the four with serious injuries were transported to hospitals.

A statement from the West Midlands Ambulance Service said two men, aged 18 and 27, and two women, aged 17 and 19, suffered serious leg injuries. All four were flown to regional hospitals for treatment.

Twelve other people had less serious injuries, the statement said.

“This has been a terrible incident and a devastating day for everyone here. I would like to express my sincerest regret and apology to everyone who suffered injury and distress today and to their families,” said Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments, which operates Alton Towers.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear, and Varney said a full investigation was underway.

“The safety of our visitors is our primary concern. The park will remain closed until we understand better the cause of this dreadful incident,” he said.

The Health and Safety Executive, the national regulator for fairgrounds, said it was sending a team of specialist inspectors to Alton Towers on Wednesday to start an investigation.

“We will want to determine that those responsible for operating this ride have done what the law requires. We will also ensure that if there are any lessons to be learned they are shared as soon as possible,” Neil Craig, the body’s regional head of operations, said in a statement.

“Although the investigation is in its early stages, we will take action to protect the public if we uncover evidence that could affect the safety of other rides at the park or elsewhere.”

CNN’s Kellie Morgan contributed to this report.