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Crane collapse: Met Police begins investigation into tragedy at Bow where woman of 85 was killed

PUBLISHED: 12:07 09 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:35 14 July 2020

Police cordon srtill in place following crane collapse tragedy in Bromley-by-Bow. Picture: Met Police

Police cordon srtill in place following crane collapse tragedy in Bromley-by-Bow. Picture: Met Police

MPS

An investigation is now under way into yesterday’s tragedy in Bromley-by-Bow when a 60ft crane being erected on a building site crashed down onto two houses nearby, killing a woman and injuring a construction worker and three other people.

House in Compton Close with the crane crashed through the roof. Picture: Sid RahmanHouse in Compton Close with the crane crashed through the roof. Picture: Sid Rahman

The woman who died at the scene has been identified by her family as June Harvey, who was 85.

Her great nephew, Sam Atkinson, 28, who lived in the same house along with his mother Jacqueline Atkinson, 63, described her as a “very caring woman” loyal to her family.

The noise of the crane smashing down through the roof was so loud that he thought a plane had crashed.

“The last thing you ever think is going to happen is a crane coming through your roof,” he said. “We are extremely traumatised, extremely shocked and devastated by our loss.

June Harvey... died when crane toppled onto her home in Bromley-by-Bow. Picture: Picture: June Harvey GoFundMe Appeal/PA Wire

June Harvey... died when crane toppled onto her home in Bromley-by-Bow. Picture: Picture: June Harvey GoFundMe Appeal/PA Wire

“I was screaming for my mum to check she was okay and my great aunt. The whole stairs were completely blocked off with rubble.

“I tried to push through it, but it was just impossible. The whole house was destroyed and crumbling around me.”

Sam ran out of the house before rescuing his mother.

“The neighbours called me to the front, where she was at the front window,” he added. “I grabbed a ladder and a neighbour grabbed another ladder to get her down. It’s just a miracle that we’re alive, lucky it didn’t come straight through and crush me, crush my mum.”

Compton Close... 60ft crane has collapsed onto two houses and a new block of flats. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA WireCompton Close... 60ft crane has collapsed onto two houses and a new block of flats. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

His mother was sorting out clothes with his great-aunt in one of the bedrooms when the crane smashed through the roof above them.

“They were really close,” Sam recalled. “We were extremely lucky to get out alive and be here now. “It’s a true miracle we are but it’s devastating my aunt had to go in such tragic circumstances.

“She looked after all of us and in the last few years she was living with us in her later life. We are devastated by our loss.”

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Specialist fire brigade units were working to recover her body from the devastation in Compton Close. A post-mortem examination the

The family have set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for costs.

A construction worker was also injured and remains in hospital in critical condition. Other people suffered non life-threatening injuries.

The investigation now underway involves the Met’s Specialist Crime unit and the Central East Command which covers Tower Hamlets. It also includes the London Fire Brigade and the Health and Safety Executive, with support from Tower Hamlets Council.

An “incident scene” is expected to remain in place around Compton Close for the next few days.

There have been no arrests and enquiries continue, Scotland Yard confirmed today.

The crane was erected on Tuesday for a Swan Housing Association development whose staff were on site almost immediately to provide support to the emergency response and the investigation. Construction work on the site next to Compton Close began in 2018.

Streets around Watts Grove leading to Compton Close have been cordoned off since the tragedy.

London Assembly member Unmesh Desai, who represents east London at City Hall, said today he was “shocked and saddened” by the incident and offered condolence to the family of June Harvey. He added: “There will be lessons to be learned so that an incident like this cannot happen in future.”

The Unite trade union last night called for a complete investigation into the circumstances that led to the tragedy.

Its national officer Jerry Swain said: “The preliminary findings must be released in weeks, not months or years, to ensure that similar accidents are avoided in future.”

Families evacuated from Compton Close and neighbouring properties were put up overnight by Tower Hamlets Council at a rest centre, involving 97 people from 26 households who have now been given temporarily hotel accommodation. It was not known when they could return as the area has to be made safe.

Mayor John Biggs warned that it “may be a few days yet” before families can be back in their homes. He added: “It’s important that we learn any lessons and see where there any errors.”

Firefighters have been working to recover June Harvey’s body safely.


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