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Crane collapse in E3 causes injury and disruption

A TALL CRANE has collapsed in Gale Street, London E3 – just north of the Limehouse Cut, near Watts Grove. The London Fire Brigade has reported that the crane was 20 metres tall.  It was on a building site in the middle of a residential area.

So far there are reports that two casualties have been taken to hospital with head injuries and two people have received medical treatment at the scene.  One person remains unaccounted for and the emergency services are searching the area to find them – and check for any other trapped people.

The crane fell onto a block of flats which was under construction. The top part of the crane landed on two terraced houses on Compton Close, causing extensive damage to their rooves.  The fall caused a loud noise heard by many local residents.  The development was being run by Swan Housing Association and Nu Living.

A construction worker who is working nearby has reported that they saw the crane being erected earlier this week and raised doubts over whether the assembly of the crane had finished.  It had been fairly windy for a couple of days near the site, but on the morning of the crash there was rain but no untoward gusts of wind.

The emergency services are attempting to secure the crane. Given the size of the crane, the locality and the way that the crane fell, it could take considerable time to make the area safe. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been called in.

Several phone calls came in to the emergency services from 2.39pm onwards. A critical incident was declared, and several local road closures were put in place so that the emergency services could reach the incident and have room to work. Congestion was reported as rush hour traffic tried to get through the area.

A Local Authority Liaison Officer from Tower Hamlets Council went to the scene and seems to be assisting residents who are being evacuated from the immediate area. A local school has been opened for them and it seems that 60-70 residents used the facility in the first instance. Staff from Swan Housing are also reported to be on site, helping the emergency services.

Fire crews from Plumstead, Whitechapel and Stratford were among those who attended. Firefighters used a drone to help them assess the scene and plan the rescue.

Assistant Commissioner Graham Ellis said, “A 20 meter crane has collapsed onto a block of flats under development and into two terraced houses on Compton Close. Our Urban Search and Rescue crews are undertaking a complex rescue operation and using specialist equipment to search the properties. This is a multi-agency response and is likely to be a protracted incident. I would ask people to avoid the area.”

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