Birmingham & Black Country

Community rallies to help bereaved Hawkeswood Recycling families

Hawkeswood Recycling, Aston, Birmingham Image copyright PA
Image caption Five people were killed at Hawkeswood Recycling in Nechells, Birmingham

It started with a handful of people heading to Nechells, Birmingham, when reports first broke that five people had been killed at Hawkeswood Metal, a recycling centre in Aston Church Road.

But as news spread, the crowds grew - and by Thursday evening up to 50 people were gathered near the scene of the cordoned-off tragedy.

The five who died have not yet been officially named, but they are thought to be Spanish nationals, of Gambian origin, who moved to Birmingham to work.

"Everybody is sad," Ansumana Barrow, 63, president of the Gambian Association in Birmingham, said.

Five crushed to death as wall collapses

Image caption Ansumana Barrow, president of the Gambian Association in Birmingham, was there to help the families

"We are hard working. They (the men who died) are feeding their families, that's why they are here. Unfortunately, this thing happens."

Mr Barrow was speaking just yards from the gates of Hawkeswood Metal, set in an area of modest terraced houses, manufacturing sites, a working men's club and the busy A47.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Lang Dampha said two of the men killed lodged with him. The family of one of them was due to arrive on Friday, he said.

His main concern, he said, was to look after the men's families.

"We'll see how best we can help - with counselling or financially. It depends on what they need."

The association was formed in 1999.

Its project manager, Ousman Njie, 43, said most Gambians in the area are recruited from employment agencies.

"If we see people who come over, we know we can refer them to an agency and it is up to the agency if they are eligible for work," he said.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption By the evening, up to 50 people had gathered at Aston Church Road. Abdulli Caeh said people were gathering to show their feelings.

"We help people integrate into society. One of the men came to our classes, we were helping him to learn English."

Lang Dampha, 48, said two of the men lodged with him in Aston.

One of them had only been with him for a week and his family was due to arrive soon.

Other people talked about how happy everyone had been on Wednesday as the tight-knit community, many of whom know each other through attending the various mosques in the area, celebrated the Muslim festival of Eid.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The accident had shocked a tight-knit community, onlookers said.

Dantra Sillah said: "We were very happy yesterday. It is very sad."

And Abdulli Caeh, 39, said: "They were very good people, hard working. It is a bad shock.

"They are Muslims, we are Muslims.

"After Eid we went out to Victoria Park by the Dudley Road Mosque."

People were gathering to show their feelings, he said, "that is why they have come".

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