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Investigation after workers are crushed to death as wall collapses at recycle plant

By Richard Vernalls

Five foreign workers have been crushed to death at a metal recycling plant.

The dead men are all originally from Gambia, and some are Spanish nationals, who emergency services said were working when a 15ft concrete bay wall collapsed on them.

Blocks weighing about one-and-a-half tons each came down, along with tons of scrap metal being stored in an outside yard at the vast recycling site in a heavily industrialised part of Birmingham.

All five workers were pronounced dead at the scene, following the incident at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling in the Nechells area of the city at about 8.40am yesterday.

The victims have been named locally as Saibo Saillahd (42), Ousman Jabbie, Mohammed Jangana, as well as Alimamo Jammeh and Bangaly Dukureh, who were both from Aston, in Birmingham.

All the men were married with young families. Mr Saillahd had three-year-old twins, and Mr Jangana had a baby.

Friends of Mr Jammeh also revealed his wife and children were due to arrive in the UK on Sunday and had not yet been told of the tragedy.

Members of the community said they were hard workers on minimum wage who had been employed through a recruitment agency. Prime Minister David Cameron has spoken of his shock at the tragedy, and said: "My thoughts are with the families of those involved."

Prayers have been said at local mosques while the president of the city's Gambian Association based in Ladywood said the community had been left "devastated" by the deaths.

Ansumana Barrow (63), who works in Brierley Hill, West Midlands, said the association would be meeting to make sure the bereaved families - many with young children - get whatever help they need.

A sixth man injured in the accident is currently in hospital after suffering a leg injury, although it is not thought to be life-threatening.

Friends of the wounded man said he rang them from hospital with news of the deaths.

In a briefing at the sprawling site, which is bordered by a railway line, Detective Superintendent Mark Payne, of West Midlands Police, said: "We believe the victims are foreign nationals. We believe the men are from Africa."

During a press conference at the site, Mr Payne said a joint Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and police investigation was now being carried out to establish the cause - warning that the process could take weeks.

He added one line of inquiry would be to find out whether "any issues of negligence or malpractice" may have contributed to the collapse.

Mr Payne said: "We're simply trying to recover the bodies of the men and do it in a way which will help understand exactly how that wall came to fall down.

"Clearly we are investigating together with the HSE, whether there are any issues of negligence or malpractice that have contributed to that wall falling down."

Emergency services have accounted for all staff on site, and said there was no prospect of any survivors under the rubble.

Belfast Telegraph


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