Five men lost their lives at Birmingham metal recycling site

By Sarata Jabbi

Five men on Thursday July 7th lost their lives at Hawkeswood Metal recycling site in Aston church road, Nechells Birmingham. The four men were believed to be Gambians whist the fifth one was confirmed to be a Senegalese national.

The men namely:Almamo Jammeh, Muhammed Jagana, Bangally Tunkara, Saibou Sillah and Ousmane Diaby were on duty at Hawkeswood metal recycling site when a retaining wall holding scrap metal collapsed on them.

Photo credit: BBC Bham and Black country
Photo credit: BBC Bham and Black country

It is understood that another Gambian man who was also working at the site and is yet to be named managed to scramble free. He was taken to Heartlands Hospital with a broken leg.

According to the BBC news online West Midlands Police were called to Hawkeswood Metal in the Nechells area of the city shortly before 09:00 BST on Thursday.

A spokesman for West Midlands Police, Detective superintendent Mark Payne said emergency services attended the site but the men were pronounced dead. He described the scene on Aston Church Road as “a very traumatic incident.

“We are still in the very early stages of this investigation to determine exactly what happened”, said Det Supt Payne.

“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 and we will continue to work with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the other emergency services at the scene.”

At a news conference from the scene, he said the victims had been working to recover scrap metal when the accident happened.

He described the collapsed structure as 12-15ft high and made of “concrete blocks” which were supporting the scrap metal.

“It appears the wall collapsed on the men and the scrap metal has fallen on top,” he said. “It’s a difficult and complex scene.”

Supt Payne added that the recovery operation was expected to last most of the day, with witness statements and CCTV of the scene to be gathered.

Police liaison officers are with the families of some of the men helping them to cope with what he described as a “tragic incident”.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “On arrival, ambulance crews found that a wall had collapsed.
“Sadly, there was nothing that could be done to save the five men who had been working next to it.”

They were working next to a “large concrete structure containing metal” when it collapsed, said the fire service.

A specialist team of fire-fighters were on scene with heavy lifting gear and cutting equipment to recover the bodies.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Gary Taylor said it was a “devastating incident for everyone involved”.

Mr Taylor said: “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.

“The scene is an extremely challenging one, involving 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.”

Prime Minister in ‘shock’  

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron says he’s “shocked” by the death of the five Gambians.
Tweeting about the incident, Mr Cameron wrote:” Shocked to hear about the tragedy in Birmingham. My thoughts are with the families of those involved.”

Also commenting on the incident, Labour MP for Ladywood, Shabana Mahmood, says: “This is devastating news for the families of those killed and my thoughts and prayers go out to them.

“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.”

Friends and families of the victims plus dozens of Gambian community gathered outside of the scene waiting to have an answer.


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