Farm workers die on Lord Selborne's estate

Two farm workers have died on a Conservative peer's country estate in east Hampshire.

Scott Cain, 23, and Ashley Clarke, 24, were found unconscious in the apple store at Lord Selborne's Blackmoor Estate, near Liss, on Monday afternoon.

Other staff members and then paramedics tried to resuscitate them but their efforts were unsuccessful.

Nitrogen is used in the storeroom to preserve the fruit but a cause of death is unknown, the coroner's office said.

Hampshire Police said post-mortem examinations were inconclusive and officers were awaiting the results of toxicology tests.

'Absolutely devastating'

A spokeswoman said the bodies of Mr Cain, from Liphook, and Mr Clarke, from Liss, were found in a storage area after colleagues raised the alarm when the two men did not return from their duties.

Det Ch Insp Dick Pearson said: "These deaths are being treated as unexplained and the full circumstances of this tragic work-related incident are being investigated by the police with the assistance of the Health and Safety Executive."

Viscount Wolmer, Lord Selborne's son and managing director of the estate, said in a statement: "Two members of staff at Blackmoor packhouse were found unconscious in an apple store on the afternoon of Monday 18 February.

"Despite the efforts of staff and the emergency services, they were subsequently found to have died.

"This is absolutely devastating news for our tight-knit community and our thoughts are with their loved ones.

"The cause of this tragic incident is being investigated and Blackmoor Estate is co-operating fully with the authorities.

"In light of that investigation it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage."

Inquests into the deaths are due to be opened on Friday by the North Hampshire Coroner Andrew Bradley.

John Palmer, the 4th Earl of Selborne, was one of the hereditary peers who remained in the House of Lords following the reforms of 1999.

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