Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham recycling plant wall collapse inquests open

Victims of the wall tragedy
Image caption Wall victims clockwise from top left: Mahamadou Jagana Jagana, Almamo Kinteh Jammeh, Saibo Sumbundu Sillah, Bangally Tunkara Dukuray and Ousman Kaba Diaby

A widow whose husband died alongside four others in a wall collapse at a scrap yard in 2016 has still not told her children, an inquest heard.

Alimamo Jammeh, 45, was one of five workers killed instantly by the "catastrophic failure" of the 15ft (4.6m) of concrete, a jury heard.

His wife, Awa Dibba, told a hearing his "little children ask every day for their dad".

The inquest in Birmingham is set to last two and a half weeks.

Ousmane Diaby, 39, Bangally Dukureh, 55, Saibo Sillah, 42, and Muhamadou Jagana, 49, also died at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling, Birmingham, in July 2016.

Jurors heard all five men - four from the Gambia and one from Senegal - had been working in Spain, where they had found it increasingly difficult to find employment.

After coming to the UK, they began working at the plant in Nechells.

Birmingham and Solihull coroner Emma Brown said: "They were clearing out a scrap metal storage bay when one of the walls, made of heavy concrete blocks, fell on to them."

When emergency services arrived, "it was identified that all five men were deceased", she said.

Relatives of the men could be seen crying while others had their heads in their hands as Ms Brown read out post-mortem examination results.

Two pathologists reported each man suffered "devastating blunt force injuries", which were mainly to the chest, head and pelvis, she said.

All had to be identified by their fingerprints, the hearing was told.

In evidence, Mr Diaby's widow Aminata Kaba said she learned of his death as word spread on Whatsapp, the inquest heard.

She said she was approached by people who got the news on the messaging app.

"Someone told me that someone had put it in WhatsApp because they did not know his close family in Birmingham," she said.

Image caption Emergency crews rushed to the scene in Nechells on 7 July

"Then we went to the mosque and they said someone has died called Ousmane Diaby and that's how I knew about his death.

"Then my husband's uncle heard about it and told me about his death."

Widows of other victims described the effect of the deaths on them and their children.

'Loved his family'

Mr Dukuray's wife Hawa Kaba said the loss of her husband had been "absolutely devastating".

"Since my husband's death my son has become very quiet and withdrawn," she said.

"I have found life a huge struggle and I miss him daily."

Mr Jammeh's wife Awa Dibba said she had still not told her children about their father's death.

"Almamo worked so hard and loved his family," she said.

"The little children ask every day for their dad, they don't know he has died."

Image copyright West Midlands Fire Service
Image caption The bodies of the men were recovered several days after the wall collapsed

Det Insp Nigel Harrison from West Midlands Police told the hearing there was "catastrophic failure of a wall" and the men's death would have been "instantaneous."

He added: "Due to the weight of the metal ingots in the adjacent bay, the amount of force pushing against the wall caused it to collapse and fall onto the victims."

Ms Brown set out the four main topics for the inquests, which include events at the plant, the medical cause of death, the cause of the wall's collapse and the construction, maintenance and risk assessment of the site.

West Midlands Police detectives and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are continuing to investigate the incident.

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