Questions remain after Great Yarmouth Industrial deaths

PUBLISHED: 18:51 27 January 2011

Industrial accident at engineering company, Claxton at Runham, Great Yarmouth

Scene where the four men died taped off

Industrial accident at engineering company, Claxton at Runham, Great Yarmouth Scene where the four men died taped off

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

THE questions continue to be asked about how four men died in a horrific accident on a Great Yarmouth building site last week.

The police’s Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team (MIT) is working with the Health and Safety Executive on an in-depth probe which is expected to take weeks.

Last Friday afternoon, emergency services were called to Claxton Engineering Services on Yarmouth’s North River Road, where four construction workers were trapped four metres underground after a steel structure collapsed in on them.

A post mortem carried out this week determined the men died of asphyxia due to trauma.

Dan Hazelton, 30, his brother Tom Hazelton, 26, Peter Johnson, 42, and Adam Taylor, 28, all from Suffolk, were working on a new-build extension to Claxton Engineering.

Yesterday an inquest was due to be opened and adjourned at the Assembly Hall in Norwich.

Air ambulances were among the rescue teams of police, ambulances and nine fire crews who raced to the site, which backs on to Vauxhall holiday park, at around 2.20pm on Friday.

They joined nearby workers who had rushed over to help after the collapse but who had been powerless to do anything because of the sheer scale of the collapse.

What met them all was a scene of devastation.

A fire service specialised heavy rescue tender team was called in from Norwich with its heavy duty cutting and lifting gear, as well as search and rescue teams from Wymondham. However, the men were later pronounced dead at the scene.

It was left to a local crane firm to help recover the bodies, which were buried beneath what was believed to be 10 to 15 tonnes of steel.

Chief fire officer for Norfolk, Nigel Williams, praised his staff, who had worked with the other services for several hours in the recovery effort. He said: “Those involved carried out the recovery in a diginified and professional manner dealing with what were very difficult circumstances.”

Following the deaths, police set up a seal, keeping the public back at least 100 yards from where the steel cage had collapsed.

A spokesman for Claxton Engineering said: “Everybody at Claxton is deeply saddened by what has occurred and the company’s thoughts and sympathy are with the families of the four men.”

The construction work was to put in place foundations for a new building, because the successful company was expanding.

l A collection named the Four Friends memorial has been set up by the Mercury’s sister paper, the East Anglian Daily Times, based in Ipswich.

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