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Summary

  1. Updates on Thursday 7 July 2016

Live Reporting

By Raj Kaur Bilkhu and Stephanie Barnard

All times stated are UK

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West Midlands Fire Service

The bodies of two of the five men killed when a retaining wall at a recycling site in Birmingham fell on them, are removed from the scene.

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Our coverage across the day

We're back in the newsroom from 08:00 tomorrow with more on today's accident, but keep an eye out here for updates to our main story during the evening and into the morning.

Community rallies to help bereaved families

It started with a handful of people heading to Nechells, Birmingham, when reports first broke that five people had been killed at Hawkeswood Metal, a recycling centre in Aston Church Road.  

But as news spread, the crowds grew - and by Thursday evening up to 50 people were gathered near the scene of the cordoned-off tragedy.  

Story on webpage
BBC

Watch: Recap of today's events

Here's a recap of the story so far. This video contains footage of emergency workers at the scene of the collapse ahead of their "careful, delicate work" that "may last several days".  

'The careful, delicate work on site may last several days'

Plant was ablaze earlier this year

Rebecca Woods

BBC News Online, Journalist

The recycling plant was the scene of a major fire in February this year, when 700 tonnes of scrap metal went up in flames.  

Watch: People gather at scene of men's deaths

Friends of five men who died when a wall collapsed in Birmingham have gathered at the site to pay their respects.  

People have gathered in Birmingham at the plant where five men died

'Worst accident' in the region for years

Ben Sidwell

BBC Midlands Today

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016, 144 people were killed in industrial accidents. 

Twelve of those were in the West Midlands. 

In terms of the number of people killed, this morning's wall collapse is the worst industrial accident in the region for many years.

'I can't break the news to his wife'

BBC Midlands Today

Among those gathered at the plant's gates is Lang Dampha, who says he's lost a childhood friend in the accident.

He said of the deceased: "He's a very hardworking man; very caring."

The man's wife has been informed, but Mr Dampha said he'd found it too hard emotionally to contact her in person. "I can't break the news to his wife, it's very difficult."

A community's 'shock and disbelief'

Sarah Falkland

BBC Midlands Today

The deaths have sent shockwaves through the Gambian community in Birmingham.

Five men, originally from Gambia, died in this morning's wall collapse, with members of the community coming to the plant when they heard the news. They arrived in disbelief.

Company fined £50,000 in 2012 over health and safety breach

Rebecca Woods

BBC News Online, Journalist

In 2012, the company was fined £50,000 after a worker's arm became trapped in machinery.  

Hawkeswood Metal Recycling Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of health and safety law at Birmingham Crown Court.

According to its website, the company processes more than 500,000 tonnes of scrap metal each year.

The firm began trading more than 40 years ago and has a customer base that includes local authorities, major PLCs and smaller independent companies.

Live from the scene: 'Need for religious burial'

Sarah Falkland

BBC Midlands Today

I've been speaking to friends and relatives of the deceased workers outside the recycling plant.

There are concerns that as all five men are Muslim, they must be buried as soon as possible in accordance with their faith.

The bodies are yet to be recovered.

Emergency crews' operation: Latest

West Midlands Fire Service says 15 firefighters remain at the Nechells recycling plant where five workers have been "crushed" under a concrete wall.

Crews have been at the scene since around 09:00.

They must wait for police to complete their examination before recovering bodies.

It adds "there is no possibility of anyone being alive under the rubble".  

Family of one victim to 'arrive in UK tomorrow'

Andrew Dawkins

BBC News Online

Dozens of friends and relatives of the victims have been anxiously waiting outside the plant during the recovery operation.

Among them was Lang Dampha who said two of the dead were his lodgers - and he had known one of them since childhood.

"I feel sad about it. We come from the same town - Noo-Kunda in Gambia."

He says the man's wife and family are due to arrive in the UK tomorrow.

Fatal wall collapse: Midlands Today is live from the scene

Nick Owen

Presenter, BBC Midlands Today

Join me at 18:30 live from the Nechells recycling plant where I'll bring you the latest on the accident that's killed five workers.

Tune in to Midlands Today on BBC One.

Families of deceased offered support

Ansumana Barrow, 63, is President of the Gambian Association, based in the Ladywood area of Birmingham.

He said he was notified about the wall collapse at Hawkeswood Metal, Nechells, while at work. Five men have died - they are believed to be Spanish nationals originally from Gambia.

"Everybody is sad," he said.

"[The deceased] are feeding their families - that's why they are here. 

"We'll see how best we can help [their families] with counselling, or helping them financially. It all depends on what they need."

Ansumana Barrow
BBC

Latest headlines: Nechells industrial accident - five dead

Stephanie Barnard

BBC Local Live

Here's what we know so far:

  • Five men have been killed after a wall collapsed on them at a recycling site in Birmingham
  • They were 'crushed'
  • Work is under way to recover their bodies from the 'challenging' scene
  • The operation is expected to last all day
  • Emergency crews are trying to stabilise the debris
  • The wall was 15ft high and comprised of concrete blocks each weighing 1.5 tonnes 
  • The victims are believed to be Spanish nationals originally from Gambia
  • Concerned people have gathered at the site for news of the dead
  • A sixth man has been taken to hospital with leg injuries

Deceased workers 'worshiped together'

Andrew Dawkins

BBC News Online

I have spoken to friends and relatives outside the recycling plant who say some of the deceased men worshiped at Cape Hill Community Mosque.

Many of those gathered here say they know some of the men from the place of worship.

Recovery operation to be carried out with 'utmost respect'

Ben Brook from West Midlands Fire Service has been speaking about the task at hand:

Rescue teams in Birmingham try to recover five bodies

Wall collapse victims were 'Spanish nationals'

The men were working next to a "large concrete structure containing metal" when it fell on them. They are believed to be Spanish nationals, originally from Gambia.

People wait outside the site for news
BBC
People wait outside the site for news

'We don't have clear information' - anxious family member

Andrew Dawkins

BBC News Online

I spoke to Dantra Sillah earlier outside the recyling plant and he thinks his cousin is one of the five workers who died there this morning.

He said all of the deceased were from different families but knew each other through mosques.

“We were very happy yesterday [Eid celebrations]. It is very sad. We don’t have any clear information."

'Difficult' recovery of bodies happening 'in a dignified way'

The fire service says it's working alongside other emergency services "to recover bodies as soon as possible in a dignified way".

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At the scene: What we know so far

Rob Mayor

Black Country Political Reporter, BBC WM

At around 08:45 this morning a 15ft wall comprised of five or six concrete blocks weighting 1.5 tonnes each and holding a substantial amount of scrap metal fell on men.

Five were killed and one was taken to hospital with serious leg injuries.

Police say the men are of African descent. A 20-strong group has gathered outside - one man told me he was awaiting news of a family friend. 

Men waiting to hear news about friends and family
BBC

Emergency vehicles line the roads outside this recycling centre. In the past hour, a fire service mechanical digger entered the site.

Emergency services say it is now a recovery operation and it will last several hours.

Watch: Scene of wall collapse from the air

Aerial footage shows emergency crews at the site of a wall collapse that has killed five men. 

Heavy lifting equipment being used to recover bodies

A specialist rescue unit and heavy lifting equipment have been deployed to the recycling plant where five workers have died.

A West Midlands Fire Service spokesperson says it will take "several hours" to recover the bodies of the deceased as they are dealing with a "challenging scene" where the "structure is still "unstable".

WMFS spokesperson at a media conference
Andrew Dawkins

Prime Minister in 'shock' over workers' deaths

The Prime Minister says he's "shocked" by the death of five metal workers in Birmingham.

David Cameron tweets...  

View more on twitter

Man waits for news of his cousin

BBC WM

We spoke to one man who is waiting outside the entrance of the recycling plant. He says he's been unable to contact his cousin after the fatal accident.

He said: "A few of us have tried his number but there is no answer. We are very anxious.”

At the scene of the Nechells recycling plant

Andrew Dawkins

BBC News Online

I am stood outside a cordon close to an industrial unit and I can a major incident support unit.

There are four ambulance vehicles and two police cars parked on Aston Church Road.

About a dozen people stand near the cordon and are trying to find out what has gone on.

Police incident support unit
Andrew Dawkins

Watch: Police on 'recovery phase'

Here's Det Supt Mark Payne on the work to locate the bodies - an operation estimated to last for the rest of the day.

Work to recover bodies in Birmingham after wall collapses at recycling plant

Early details on the five who died

The five men who died at a Nechells recycling plant are believed to be from Africa.

Det Supt Mark Payne of West Midlands Police said trained officers were working with the families of the deceased. 

Birmingham MP says fatal wall collapse is 'devastating'

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."

View more on twitter

People gather near site of fatal industrial accident

George Wood, who works at a transport company opposite the plant, said: "We've just heard there's been five people killed and they got crushed. 

Several other people have also gathered near the entrance and say they're waiting for news of family members who work there. 

Photo: Air ambulance above scene

One of the workers at the site says he's "shocked" by what's happened. He took this photo:

Air ambulance flying over Nechells recycling yard
Slaff

People at plant told to 'abandon site' after wall collapse

Slav Angiyu, a truck driver, was on the Hawkeswood recycling site when a concrete wall collapsed on five men but he did not witness it.

"The guys came over and said something had happened and we had to abandon the site," he said.

"My heart goes out to the families of the victims," he added.

Staff at recycling plant 'very upset' following fatal accident

A 'thorough investigation' is under way and it is, according to West Midlands Police, a 'traumatic process'.  

Employees at the site where five men died this morning have been described as "very upset". A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesperson said it "was a very difficult scene to work with".

He added: "We've had to bring in heavy lifting equipment. There are a number of hazards we've got to resolve. It's very hazardous. There are a number of dangers and we are working to mitigate them."

Five dead men were workers

The five dead men who died at the metal recycling centre have been confirmed by police as "workers".

Dead men were 'crushed'

The men who died were "crushed", Det Supt Mark Payne said in his press conference a moment ago.

Earlier blaze at recycling plant 'did not cause accident'

A recycling plant where five men have died in a wall collapse was engulfed in a huge fire earlier this year.

Det Supt Mark Payne said: "It was a huge concrete wall and there is no evidence to suggest it was weakened by that fire".

Det Supt Mark Payne
Andrew Dawkins

Men hit by 'huge' wall - then the material it was supporting

A "huge" wall comprised of "concrete blocks", estimated to weigh about 1.5 tonnes each, collapsed on the men, says Det Supt Mark Payne of West Midlands Police.

It was bearing scrap metal which also fell on them after the wall gave way.

“It’s a difficult and complex scene,” he said, estimating the wall to be 12 to 15ft high.