London

Knightsbridge balcony collapse: Two dead, six injured

Balcony collapse

Two men died and six other people were injured after part of a balcony collapsed in west London.

Railings on the balcony of a building at Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge, gave way at about 10:00 GMT.

The men who died are believed to be of Polish origin and had been delivering sofas to the property.

Eight people were treated for injuries, one man died at the scene and the other in hospital, London Ambulance Service said.

Scotland Yard said: "At this early stage it is believed that a number of sofas were being delivered to the address - which was under renovation - prior to the railings on the balcony giving way."

A neighbour, Sandra Panagopoulos, said: "I saw somebody lying on the street in front of [number] 37.

"I just saw someone lying there and a woman that was desperately trying to help, running into the building and out and all the builders being very distressed walking around here and sitting down.

"And then somebody came and told me that two removal boys fell from the first-floor balcony because the railing apparently fell down. They fell down trying to get a sofa up there."

Raj Ramanoop, who was close to the scene at the time, said: "I was down the street there - a friend said there has been an accident and then the air ambulance came down.

"Then I knew something serious had happened. I heard that it was a sofa that was either going out or going in."

A neighbour, who wanted to remain anonymous, told BBC News: "They were trying to pull a couch up to the first-floor apartment with ropes. Was apparently too heavy. The fence broke off and fell on the workmen below."

Sinclair Johnston, an engineer who has worked on another property in the square, said the decorative railings could not be depended upon to support weight.

He said: "These sort of constructions are always very fragile and the iron railings can rust. The stone can become fragile and break up so you never really know how strong they are. It's something that engineers are very aware of.

"The ironwork is incredibly heavy so if it falls off it can be a disaster."

A local resident, who did not want to be named, told the BBC that furniture and pianos "go in and out of the windows all the time" on the square.

Estate agent Clem Byron-Evans said: "In head leases it tends to say that you are not allowed to move furniture through the ground floor."

Image copyright PA

He said the ruling was due to the ground floor area in similar properties being communal and residents would be liable for any damage.

Cadogan Square consists of residential properties, with many of the buildings divided into flats.

The first-floor balcony is believed to have been connected to property number 37, a five-storey terraced building.

The decorative wrought-iron railing appears to have fallen about 3.6m (12ft) to the ground, although the stone base of the balcony looks undamaged.

A number of long ropes were left hanging from the balcony to the ground where plastic sheets are gathered.

A police tent was erected on the pavement below and the street has been closed to the public.

Image copyright PA

BBC presenter Andrew Neil, who is a local resident, described the area saying: "You'd never know you're in central London. There's never any traffic. It's so tranquil. A lot of people buy here to invest."

London Ambulance Service sent three ambulance crews, an advanced paramedic, the hazard response team and a London air ambulance to the scene.

A London Fire Brigade spokesman said: "When we arrived we made the scene safe, securing parts of the iron balcony that had broken away in the fall."

Police are in the process of identifying the dead men's next of kin while an investigation is under way to establish the circumstances.

The Health and Safety Executive and police are investigating.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea said: "We are aware of a fatal accident in Cadogan Square.

"Police are in control of the scene and council officers will be on hand to assist if required in any investigation."

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