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Two found dead at Banham Poultry factory after suspected refrigeration gas leak

PUBLISHED: 15:46 04 October 2018 | UPDATED: 13:07 05 October 2018

Police at the Banham Poultry factory in Attleborough following an incident. Picture Simon Parkin.

Police at the Banham Poultry factory in Attleborough following an incident. Picture Simon Parkin.

Archant

Police are continuing to investigate an industrial incident after two men were found dead at the Banham Poultry factory in Attleborough.

Officers were called to Banham Poultry, on Station Road, at around 1.10am this morning (Thursday), following reports the bodies of two subcontractors working on the site had been found.

The men, aged in their 30s and 40s, were found close to the factory and had been working on the site from a pest control company. No one else was injured.

Having carried out initial assessments investigating teams on site, police are exploring what they believe to have been a refrigeration gas leak near to where the men were working as a line of enquiry.

It is believed there is no threat to the wider public as result of the gas leak.

The Banham Poultry factory in Attleborough. Picture Simon Parkin.The Banham Poultry factory in Attleborough. Picture Simon Parkin.

However one platform at Attleborough Station remained closed to passengers until 5.30pm with trains heading towards Cambridge not stopping at the town as scheduled.

A cordon around where the two men were found whilst investigations continued meant the platform closet to the factory was sealed off by police officers.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have launched an investigation into the deaths.

A Norfolk Police spokesman said they were continuing along with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service and the HSE to assess the scene in order to understand the circumstances which lead to the men’s deaths.

Police at Banham Poultry, next to the Attleborough Railway Station, after two pest controllers were found dead close to the factory.  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice at Banham Poultry, next to the Attleborough Railway Station, after two pest controllers were found dead close to the factory. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A police cordon remains in place whilst the enquiry continues and extra patrols will take place to offer reassurance.

Chief Inspector Stu Chapman said: “On behalf of Norfolk Police and other emergency services, I offer my condolences to the friends and families of the men killed in this incident and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

“Colleagues from Norfolk Fire Service continue to make the scene safe so that detailed investigations can begin between police, fire, and the Health and Safety Executive, to understand the circumstances which lead to the men’s deaths.”

A spokesman for the Eastern Ambulance Service said that two ambulances, a rapid response vehicle, three hazardous area response teams and an air ambulance had been sent to the factory.

Emergency services at Banham Poultry in Attleborough. Picture: Simon ParkinEmergency services at Banham Poultry in Attleborough. Picture: Simon Parkin

He said: “Despite the best efforts of all involved, two men died at the scene.”

Fire crews from Attleborough, Wymondham, Carrow and environmental protection units from Sprowston and King’s Lynn North also attended the factory on Station Road.

Crews wore breathing apparatus and used gas monitors to make the area safe.

A spokesperson from Banham Poultry said: “We are deeply saddened and send our deepest condolences to their family and friends. We are working closely with the police and health and safety authorities to determine what happened, and are also conducting our own internal investigation.”

The deaths came on the same day the firm announced its future could be at risk with the loss of up to 1,000 jobs. There’s no indication the two things are linked.

MP for Mid Norfolk George Freeman tweeted: “Terrible news this morning of two deaths from what is reported as an industrial chemical spill in Attleborough this morning.

“Thoughts and prayers with all those affected. And with the employees of Banham Poultry at this v difficult time.”

He thanked all the emergency services that had worked through the night to secure the area.

Police at Banham Poultry, next to the Attleborough Railway Station, after two pest controllers were found dead close to the factory.  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice at Banham Poultry, next to the Attleborough Railway Station, after two pest controllers were found dead close to the factory. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Residents of the town have expressed shock and sadness at the incident.

Cliff Amos, former watch manager at Attleborough fire station and chairman of Attleborough Heritage Centre, said: “When I opened the centre this morning and there were police parked opposite. It’s a shocking thing to have happened.

“There are lots of regulations for working with chemicals. It’s really tragic.

“As a heritage group we are Greater Anglia station volunteers and look after the gardens along the platform. I’m glad we didn’t go up there earlier.”

Police at Banham Poultry behind the southbound platform at Attleborough Railway Station, after two pest controllers were found dead close to the factory.  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice at Banham Poultry behind the southbound platform at Attleborough Railway Station, after two pest controllers were found dead close to the factory. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Eunice Bird, who lives in New North Road, said: “This is a really shocking. I live just on the opposite side of the railway line from the factory. It’s tragic. The news that Banham jobs were at risk was a shock and now this. The factory is really one of the lifeblood’s of the town.”

Harvey Barker, from Travis Perkins trading, Station Road said: “You can’t really see anything but there’s a police car parked to the side of the train track. There’s police there trying to keep people away from the track.”

Emma Williams, from D K’s Coffee House on Connaught Road, said: “We were very surprised about the incident, it’s very sad.”

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