Toppled Reading Primark crane upright again

Fallen crane Image copyright NPAS
Image caption Shops and 60 homes had to be evacuated after the 60m crane fell

A crane that toppled and landed on a former Primark store in Reading town centre has been stabilised.

Shops and 60 homes were evacuated after the 60m (197ft) jib landed on the vacant clothing shop in West Street on Saturday afternoon.

No-one was injured but the council provided accommodation for 49 people.

Berkshire Fire Service has stabilised the crane and it is upright again. The jib will be dismantled overnight, Thames Valley Police said.

BW Workplace Experts, which operates the crane, has declined to comment.

Earlier, police said experts from NMT Crane Hire in the Netherlands would assess the crane's jib, which is jammed, and that it could take several days to remove the crane from the scene.

Primark said it was liaising with the relevant authorities.

Image copyright NPAS
Image caption The offices were in the process of being refurbished by BW Workplace Experts

The building, which is still owned by Primark, previously housed one of its stores. Upstairs offices were in the process of being refurbished by BW Workplace Experts.

The Health and Safety Executive is aware of the "major incident" and is assisting the fire service and Thames Valley Police with their inquiries.

West Street has reopened to pedestrians, apart from the section between the affected building and Friar Street.

Image caption Shops were evacuated after the crane came to rest against the former Primark building

Supt Robert France apologised for the disruption to residents and said anyone requiring essential items from their homes should speak to officers at the cordon.

"A small number of properties in West Street… remain inaccessible due to ongoing work to recover the crane. We apologise for any inconvenience to residents, however our main priority is your safety."

Image caption The Health and Safety Executive is aware of the "major incident"

Residents of Cheapside and Oxford Road, and some in West Street, have been allowed to return to their homes.

Brent Dyson, from Reading Borough Council, said: "We've been receiving evacuees at the cordon all night… so we've maintained a presence here, receiving those evacuees, transporting them to our evacuation centre which is a local hotel.

"We needed to give people shelter from the weather, which was pretty bad last night. There were some parents with children so we just needed to get them off the streets, which we did.

"Luckily the Greyfriars church over the road had opened their doors and helped us receive the evacuees in the very, very short term."

Huib Steenbergen, who lives in the McIlroys building on Oxford Road, said: "People at Greyfriars church gave us tea and we slept in a hotel. I can't stress how grateful we are."

Image caption The crane is upright again but its jib is believed to be jammed

A Primark spokesperson said: "The safety of all staff and members of the public present at the site is our first priority.

"Primark is liaising with the relevant authorities to understand the cause of the incident."

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