Friday 24 March 2017

Five workers crushed to death at recycling plant as wall collapses

Video grab from Sky News of the scene of the fatal accident at Hawkeswood Metal in Birmingham
Video grab from Sky News of the scene of the fatal accident at Hawkeswood Metal in Birmingham
Ansumana Barrow, President of the Gambian Association in Birmingham, at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling in the Nechells area of Birmingham, who said that the association would make sure the bereaved families would get whatever help they needed, after five workers were crushed to death at the metal recycling plant. Richard Vernalls/PA Wire
The scene at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling in the Nechells area of Birmingham where five men died after a wall collapsed. Chris Radburn/PA Wire
West Midlands Ambulance Service at the scene at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling in the Nechells area of Birmingham where five men died after a wall collapsed. Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Police at the scene at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling in the Nechells area of Birmingham where five men died after a wall collapsed. Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Lexi Finnigan in London

Five men have died after a "large concrete structure containing metal" collapsed at Hawkeswood Metal recycling plant near Birmingham.

Paramedics tried to free the men, including one who had suffered a heart attack. But West Midlands Police pronounced all five victims dead at the scene of the industrial accident in the Nechells area of the city.

A sixth man was taken to hospital with serious leg injuries. The victims have yet to be identified.

Police said an investigation into what happened was under way and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had been notified.

Two ambulances, an air ambulance, a hazardous area response team and an emergency planning officer were called to Hawkeswood Metal in Aston Church Road at 8.45am.

Ambulance

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: "On arrival, ambulance crews found a wall that had collapsed.

"Sadly, there was nothing that could be done to save the five men who had been working next to it.

"A sixth man was partially trapped by the falling concrete but had managed to get out from the rubble himself.

"He was treated at the scene by ambulance staff and the doctor from the air ambulance for a broken leg before he was taken to Heartlands Hospital for further treatment."

The scene at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling in the Nechells area of Birmingham where five men died after a wall collapsed. Chris Radburn/PA Wire
The scene at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling in the Nechells area of Birmingham where five men died after a wall collapsed. Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Detective Superintendent Mark Payne said: "We are still in the very early stages of this investigation to determine exactly what happened this morning.

"Sadly, five people have lost their lives and we have several teams of specialist officers supporting their families at this time.

"This has been a very traumatic incident for those who were at the site this morning and we will continue to work alongside the HSE and the other emergency services at the scene."

West Midlands Fire Service deployed its Technical Rescue Unit (TRU) to the scene equipped with heavy-lifting and cutting equipment.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Gary Taylor said: "This is a devastating incident for everyone involved. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the victims' families and colleagues.

"Once the police have finished their initial examination of the scene, our absolute priority will be to ensure that the bodies of those who have lost their lives are recovered in the most timely and safe way possible, and with the utmost dignity and respect."

Mr Taylor described the scene as extremely challenging, with a significant tonnage of concrete and metal, and a structure that is still unstable.

"We have an assertive recovery plan in place and expect this operation to take several hours," he said.

George Wood, who works at a transport company opposite the entrance to the recycling plant, said: "We've just heard there's been five people killed and they got crushed. I spoke to the manager earlier but he told me he couldn't say anything."

Several other people had also gathered near the entrance to the site and told reporters they were waiting for news of family members who work there.

Slav Angiyu, a truck driver, was on the site when the accident happened but did not witness it. He said: "The guys came over and said something had happened and we had to abandon the site. My heart goes out to the families of the victims."

Shabana Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood, said: "This is devastating news for the families of those killed and my thoughts and prayers go out to them.

"The bodies of the victims must be recovered as quickly as possible, but then there will be some serious questions to answer about what led to the deaths of these workers.

"Nothing will bring their loved ones back but the families of those who have been killed will want answers, they will want to understand what has happened here.

"I am extremely shocked that five lives have been cut short so abruptly like this."

Earlier this year, fire crews were called to the recycling plant after over 100 tonnes of shredded scrap metal caught fire. The fire was believed to be caused by petrol tanks which caught fire during a routine scrap metal cutting work.

Irish Independent

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