Nechells tragedy – hunt for bodies continues

Recovery process continues after fatal scrap yard wall collapse.

A joint emergency services operation continues today at the site of a Nechells scrap metal yard where five men died following a wall collapse.

West Midlands Police investigators are working with specialist fire colleagues and the Health and Safety Executive in a bid to understand what led to a concrete structure – comprising of 1.5-tonne blocks – giving way at the Hawkesley Metal recycling plant.

All five men are understood to be from the local Gambian community and were agency staff working at the facility.

Two bodies were recovered from the site in Aston Church Road yesterday and it’s hoped the three other bodies will be freed from the rubble later today.

Detective Superintendent Mark Payne described the scene as “challenging and complex” but said emergency services were working as quickly as possible to recover the bodies.

He added: “It’s a very delicate operation: obviously recovering the bodies as quickly as possible and with dignity is paramount but we must ensure that we don’t compromise any evidence during the process.

“Fire colleagues are here with specialist lifting equipment and we’re confident the recovery side will be complete before the end of today so that formal identification of the victims can start.

“This is an awful tragedy and my heart goes out to the family and friends of the victims. I have spoken to members of the Gambian community – they have been brilliant, very understanding and local officers will be working with them to offer support and updates.”

Meanwhile, MP Shabana Mahmood, whose Ladywood consituency includes the accident site, said: “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.”