Alton Towers is to reopen its Smiler roller coaster less than a year after a horrific crash left five people seriously injured, and two women with legs amputated. The Staffordshire theme park confirmed on Twitter the ride would be available to visitors when it opens for the 2016 season on 19 March.

The announcement comes days after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed the park's owner, Merlin Entertainment would be prosecuted for the Smiler crash. The incident in June 2015 saw a carriage carrying 16 people collide with another empty carriage. It resulted in two women, Leah Washington and Vicky Balch, having one leg each amputated. Three others were seriously injured.

The park closed for four days and a number of other rides were also temporarily shut down as a precaution. The crash was investigated by the HSE. The crash was blamed by Merlin on human error.

Last week the company, which also owns Legoland and the London Eye, reported its year-on-year pre-tax profits had risen by 0.3% to £250m ($348m, €321m). This was dented by what the company's chief executive Nick Varney said was a "challenging year" which had seen a "significant" fall in visitor numbers at Alton Towers following the crash.

The company is alleged by the HSE to have breached a section of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety."

The firm is due to appear at North Staffordshire Justice Centre on 22 April.

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