Great Yarmouth: Four men killed in falling steel tragedy

FOUR people from Suffolk died last night after they were crushed to death beneath tonnes of falling steel in an industrial accident at an East Anglian off-shore engineering company.

The men, believed to be from the Bury St Edmunds area, were working four metres below ground when the steel structure they were building collapsed on top of them.

Police and safety inspectors have launched an investigation into the tragedy, which happened in the Runham area of Great Yarmouth.

Emergency services were called to the industrial site in North River Road at about 2.20pm yesterday.

Firefighters and three air ambulances went to the site, owned by Claxton Engineering Services Limited.

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But it is understood there was nothing they could do to help the men, who had died beneath tonnes of collapsed metal.

All four are believed to be from the Bury St Edmunds area, with at least two of them thought to be aged in their 20s.

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A local crane firm was called in to lift the metal so the bodies of the workers, believed to be building contractors, could be reached.

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said: “We were called to a serious incident in Great Yarmouth this afternoon where a steel structure which was being built four metres below ground to reinforce building foundations collapsed while four workers were inside.

“Land and air ambulance crews have worked closely with the other emergency services.”

Nine fire crews were called to the scene, including a heavy rescue tender from Norwich, crews from Great Yarmouth and search and rescue teams.

An investigation has been launched by the joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team (MIT) working with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

MIT Detective Chief Inspector Neil Luckett said: “This is a tragic event and we will be working closely with the HSE to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident.

“This may be a lengthy process. Our thoughts our with the families of the men who died.”

Police were last night informing family members of the tragedy.

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive confirmed inspectors had gone to the scene and it is expected that HSE officers will spend today trying to piece together what happened.

Police set up a seal keeping the public back at least 100 yards from the scene of the accident. One vehicle remained at the scene overnight.

Last night, a statement was released by the firm at the centre of the tragedy which said: “Claxton Engineering Services Limited can confirm that an accident occurred this afternoon at its premises in North River Road, Great Yarmouth, where construction work on a new facility is being carried out by external contractors.

“We are also able to confirm that four men have tragically lost their lives in this incident, which is now being investigated by the Norfolk Constabulary and the Health and Safety Executive.

“The company is fully co-operating with the investigation.

“Everybody at Claxton is deeply saddened by what has occurred today and the company’s thoughts and sympathy are with the families of the four men.’’

Norfolk Euro MP Richard Howitt, who serves on the European Parliament’s committee responsible for health and safety, also issued a statement in the wake of the tragedy.

He said: “I am deeply sorry to hear of this horrific accident and offer my condolences to the families and colleagues of those who tragically lost their lives.

“Everyone in Yarmouth knows that serving the offshore industry can be a highly dangerous place to work.

“But that makes it even more important that the investigation uncovers whether every possible step had been taken to ensure the safety of the site.’’

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