Woman dies after 20-metre cranes collapses onto Bow homes

8 July 2020, 15:27

By Maddie Goodfellow

A woman has died after a 20-metre crane collapsed onto homes in Bow, east London.

The crane collapsed on a site where flats were being constructed, and crashed onto two adjacent terrace houses on Compton Close, Bow, on Wednesday afternoon, London Fire Brigade (LFB) said.

The victim was found on the first floor of one of the houses hit by the crane and confirmed dead at the scene.

A video posted on Twitter showed a terraced house with part of the roof caved in, and emergency services said "a complex rescue operation" was under way.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted: "This is a tragedy. My heartfelt condolences go out to the family of the victim who died during this incident in Bow today. I sincerely hope that the four individuals injured make a full recovery."

London Ambulance Service (LAS) said crews treated four people and confirmed one death.

A spokeswoman for LAS said: "We treated four people at the scene. We treated two of these patients for head injuries and took them to hospital and we assessed the other two patients at the scene.

"Sadly, despite the efforts of emergency services, a fifth person was found and died at the scene."

The Metropolitan Police said officers were called at around 2.39pm on Wednesday to Gale Street to a report of a crane that collapsed into a residential property and a building site.

A woman has died after a crane collapsed onto some homes in Bow, east London
A woman has died after a crane collapsed onto some homes in Bow, east London. Picture: PA

In a statement, London Fire Brigade said: "We've taken fourteen 999 calls to reports of a crane that has collapsed onto a building in Gale Street, Bow. More updates when we have them but please avoid the area."

A spokeswoman for Swan Housing Association and NU living said: "Swan Housing Association/NU living is deeply saddened by an incident that has occurred at our Watts Grove development site this afternoon.

"Our thoughts are with those affected and their families at this difficult time.

"We would like to thank the emergency services for their swift and dedicated response and those who are supporting residents who have had to leave their homes as a safety precaution.

"Our staff are on site to provide support to the emergency response and the investigation."

Work on the Watts Grove site began in 2018 where the one, two and three-bed shared ownership apartments are replacing an electrical substation building, according to the NU living website.

The incident happened shortly before 3pm today
The incident happened shortly before 3pm today. Picture: PA

LFB assistant commissioner Graham Ellis said: "Our urban search and rescue crews are undertaking a complex rescue operation and using specialist equipment to search the properties.

"This is a multi-agency response and is likely to be a protracted incident.

"I would ask people to avoid the area."

A woman whose home was damaged by the collapsing crane in east London said her family are lucky to be alive.

The woman said she felt "traumatised" after the crane fell in Bow on Wednesday afternoon, killing one person.

She said her home is next door to the one which felt the full impact of the crash, and said the collapse sounded "like an earthquake".

Reflecting on what happened, the woman said: "I came out of the bathroom and if I had come out a second later, the attic door which is above could have fallen on me and that would have knocked me out.

"The way that everything fell - if my brother or sister had been in their rooms which is where it hit directly, I just cannot bear to think about it.

Unite national officer Jerry Swain said there must be "an urgent, full and complete investigation into the circumstances that led to this accident"
Unite national officer Jerry Swain said there must be "an urgent, full and complete investigation into the circumstances that led to this accident". Picture: PA
Emergency services at the scene on Wednesday afternoon
Emergency services at the scene on Wednesday afternoon. Picture: PA

Describing the devastation left in her home after the collapse, she said: "There was just rubble and stuff in the doorway.

"There was smoke and just bits and bobs around.

"My mum was shouting for me because she thought it had hit me.

"She was screaming.

"I was screaming back.

"I then realised my brother was downstairs and I need to grab whatever I can and just go.

"I am not sure how I managed to run downstairs because there was stuff everywhere.

"All the smoke alarms were going off.

"I went to the sitting room.

"It sounded to me like an earthquake or almost like a stone that someone had chucked into our home.

"We are all just so lucky to be alive - that is all I can really say."

Local resident Alom Uddin, 28, said he was called to the scene by his cousin who said that a crane had collapsed on their house.

He said: "It is just unbelievable. My uncle said he was just going out to the garden and saw the crane. He looked up and saw the crane coming towards him.

"Obviously, at first you are in a bit of a shock. Then he realised what was happening but before he could go in and warn everyone what was going on - the crane had already hit the house.

"All the rubble from upstairs went on to the first floor."

He said "it was a miracle" that none of his family was hurt and "they were on the right side of the house".

He added: "They did not even have a scratch which is a miracle but obviously the psychological damage is going to be something else.

"Just imagine they repair that house and you have to go back and live there - this is just going to keep playing on your mind.

"It is like a near-death experience."

Pictures show how the crane tore through the buildings
Pictures show how the crane tore through the buildings. Picture: Twitter

Neil Marney, chief executive of Marney Construction, said it was not one of his company's cranes that had collapsed nor was it a crane on one of his sites.

But he said he could see the crane being erected on Tuesday from the site he was working on, saying: "My project manager on the site called me immediately and said the crane you were looking at yesterday being erected has just collapsed.

"So all I could see yesterday was the mast and the cab was on, and then I believe they started to add sections of the boom."

Unite national officer Jerry Swain said there must be "an urgent, full and complete investigation into the circumstances that led to this accident".

He added: "The preliminary findings of which must be released in weeks, rather than months or years, in order to ensure that similar accidents are avoided in the future."

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