FIVE people were taken to hospital after two crashes happen within yards of each other in the space of a couple of minutes in Southend.

In the first , a teenage boy and girl and a man in his sixties were taken to hospital after a car and van collided in Eastwoodbury Crescent.

Two minutes later, another crash, just across the roundabout in Rochford Road, resulted in two people being taken to hospital with chest and back injuries.

Police closed Eastwoodbury Crescent, after the first accident to allow firefighters to cut the teenagers free from the car and the man to be freed from the crashed white van.

Connor Botwright, 22, who watched the drama from his home in Eastwoodbury Crescent, said: “I heard a loud smash and woman’s scream, and as I looked out, the Renault was still coming to a halt on the grass verge. The side was com- pletely smashed. The poor passengers either couldn't get out or were told not to.

“The whole left passenger side of the van was crumpled.”

Fire crews from Southend and Leigh used specialist cutting equipment at the scene.

The van driver was stretchered out of his vehicle with leg injuries and taken to Southend Hospital, as were the other casualties. The teenager in the Clio had bruising to his face and the girl was suffering from shock.

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said: “We were called to Eastwoodbury Crescent at 4.55pm on Monday. We sent two ambulances, a rapid response car and a paramedic officer.

“The van and car must have collided head-on because the van looked really crumpled at the front.”

The people injured in the Rochford Road crash are thought to have minor injuries.