Birmingham & Black Country

Relatives of Hawkeswood victims wait for bodies to be released

Boubakaray Sera, begs for news of his brother Bangaly Dukureh at Hawkeswood Recycling.
Image caption Boubakaray Sera begged for news of his brother Bangaly Dukureh.

"This is killing me. My brother is there. I don't know nothing."

Twenty-four hours after a wall collapsed on five workers as they cleared metal at Hawkeswood Recycling in Nechells, Birmingham, two bodies were yet to be recovered.

For Boubakaray Sera, whose brother Bangaly Dukureh, 50, was still buried under the rubble on Friday, the wait for news became too much.

"Please God, take him out. Since yesterday, how many hours?", he pleaded in tears with emergency services at the cordon.

"He was very healthy, there was nothing wrong with him. Then one day he came here and he's dead."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Heavy machinery was brought in to help with the recovery operation

His distress was widely felt by a community devastated by the deaths of minimum-wage friends and family employed through a recruitment agency.

Image caption Family and friends gathered to listen to a press conference at the scene.

Updates on this story from Birmingham

All five wall collapse bodies recovered

Community rallies to help deceased

Image caption Lanboc Tocray was waiting for news of his stepfather Bangaly Dukureh. Two days earlier, the two men had celebrated Eid together.

But the wait continues, as even though all the bodies were recovered by Friday afternoon they will not be released until a coroner is satisfied that a cause of death is established.

As is Muslim tradition, relatives want the bodies of the men to be released as soon as possible so they can be buried.

Post mortems will be carried out on Monday.

Masamba Darame, 54, who works at Hawkeswood Metal but was not required on the day of the tragedy, said: "These were my friends, I can't believe it.

"We clean away the metal when it is dropped by the machine.

"We wear gloves and masks. It's difficult work and it is cold in winter. We always have to be worried about safety because it can be dangerous."

Just two days ago, all these men were celebrating Eid with their families.

Lanboc Tocray, aged 24, enjoyed a meal with Mr Dukureh, his stepfather.

Less than 12 hours later, the older man was dead.

Image caption Ahmed Jamegay travelled from Bristol to celebrate Eid with friends in Birmingham. He stayed to wait for news of those killed.

"We did not live together, but we were very close," said Mr Tocray, who arrived at the scene on Friday morning to wait for news.

"We would meet up and go to the mosque together. I spoke with my mother on the phone - she is in Africa.

"She is very sad. She is okay but she has people around her to calm her down."

Ahmed Jamegay, 25, travelled up from Bristol to celebrate Eid with the Gambian community.

Image caption Family and friends of the five men killed were still waiting for information on Friday

"We had food. We went to the mosque. Everyone was sitting, talking, eating and enjoying.

"And then we wake up to this terrible news.

"We waited all day yesterday and then went home. But we could not sleep.

"Our relatives watched the news in Africa. It is a very worrying time for them."

Image copyright Lang Dampha
Image caption Alimamo Kinteh-Jammeh is thought to be one of the deceased. His family was due to fly over to be with him later.

Amadou Kinteh, 45, travelled to the scene from Northfield in Birmingham. He was friends with Alimamo Jammeh, one of the deceased.

He said: "Alimamo was my friend. He was a great person, very friendly. He was well known in the community.

"He liked his job. He had been here five years.

"When I heard the news yesterday, it was terrible. It was the worst day of my life."

The men were killed when blocks, weighing about one-and-a-half tons each, came down along with a huge quantity of scrap metal held up by the wall.

Thursday was spent waiting for news.

Now, relatives and friends wait to say a final farewell to their loved ones.

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