The final death toll from the Shoreham air crash could rise to 20, Sussex Police assistant chief constable Steve Barry has said.

Eleven people are so far feared to have died when a Hawker Hunter jet plummeted on to the A27 after it failed to pull out of a loop manoeuvre during an aerial display, exploding in a huge fireball as it ploughed through cars on the busy road.

But with recovery of the wreckage of the aircraft expected to take place later today, Sussex Police assistant chief constable Steve Barry said the number of dead could rise.

He said: ‘To give people a sense of scale and also the number of people we are trying to work with in terms of the movements of their loved ones, then I would be really surprised if it would be more than 20.’

Mr Barry added: ‘Today there is a plan for a crane to come and the plan is for the plane to be moved and then for the recovery to continue.

‘The plane needs to be made safe. There are issues around fuel in the aircraft still and there is an issue around making sure the ejector seat is still safe.

‘Hopefully the aircraft will be moved today. What that will uncover in terms of further recovery work is unknown and it’s possible that once the aircraft is moved that we will discover more fatalities.

‘Once the aircraft is moved then the forensic examination of the scene continues and even then, once that’s clear, the highway will need major repairs, so it could be days rather than hours before the A27 is opened.

Police and air crash investigators are continuing to search for bodies

Pilot Andy Hill, an experienced aerobatic stunt flyer who has performed at shows up and down the country and flies for British Airways, was pulled alive from the wreckage and is fighting for his life in hospital.

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