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Birmingham wall collapse: widows of five men crushed to death feel ‘abandoned’

Birmingham wall collapse: widows of five men crushed to death feel ‘abandoned’

The widows of five men crushed to death at a scrap metal plant have said they feel “abandoned and ignored” and are yet to receive justice two and a half years after the tragedy. An inquest in November heard that the men had to be identified by their fingerprints after receiving “devastating blunt-force injuries” when…

The widows of five men crushed to death at a scrap metal plant have said they feel “abandoned and ignored” and are yet to receive justice two and a half years after the tragedy.

An inquest in November heard that the men had to be identified by their fingerprints after receiving “devastating blunt-force injuries” when a 4.6-metre high wall and 263 tonnes of metal fell on to them in July 2016.

The inquest jury found that there was a “foreseeable risk” that the wall would collapse but recorded verdicts of accidental death for the victims: Almamo Jammeh, 45, Ousmane Diaby, 39, Bangally Dukureh, 55, Saibo Sillah, 42, and Muhamadou Jagana, 49.

The families of the men, four from the Gambia and one from Senegal, previously condemned the verdict and said they believe the men were unlawfully killed.

In an interview with Birmingham Live, published on Sunday, the sole survivor of the crush said he had received no support from Shredmet, the metal recycling firm that owns the plant.

Tonbong Camarah Conteh, who suffered serious crush injuries to his leg, said: “I want justice for my friends and help for the families. The company said they were going to take care of us all and they have not. They have done nothing, not even a phone call to see how we are. We feel very sad.”

One widow said Shredmet, a subsidiary of Hawkeswood Holding Group Ltd, had not been in contact with the men’s families once since their deaths on 6 July 2016.

“We are still waiting for justice after all this time,” said Fatoumata Jagana, whose husband Muhamadou was among the five killed.

“Our children don’t have their daddies. We are all lost and miss them every day. We need justice, to show their deaths mattered. We need help.”

Friends of the men told the Guardian at the time that they had first left Africa for Spain, becoming Spanish nationals, in order to work to provide a better life for their families.

When work became harder to secure in Spain, the men came to Britain individually and joined a local employment agency before finding work at the Shredmet plant.

The Health and Safety Executive is leading a criminal investigation into whether the incident involved any breaches of health and safety law. A spokesman said it was unable to say when a decision would be made on any future prosecution.

In a statement, Shredmet said it was “very sad” if the men’s families felt abandoned, adding that it had “tried to act in the right way” including by donating to the mosque they attended.

The company said it had been advised that “as the men were not actually employees” of Shredmet any contact should be through the victims’ employment agency. It added: “We would like to do more for the families, but have been advised that they have brought formal claims for compensation and that we must respect the formality of that process.”

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