Body of woman, 85, killed in Bow crane collapse 'still trapped inside' building

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

The body of the elderly woman who was killed when a crane collapsed onto her house is still trapped inside the building.

The victim, who has been named as 85-year-old June Harvey, was killed when a 20-metre crane collapsed onto her home in Compton Close, Bow, east London, on Wednesday afternoon.

A team of specialist firefighters are still attempting to recover her body as an investigation into the incident begins, police said.

A construction worker was also injured and remains in hospital in critical condition, while a number of other people are believed to have suffered non life-threatening injuries.

A large part of the roof could be seen to be completely destroyed on one of the houses.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) said theHarvey was found on the first floor of one of the houses hit by the crane and confirmed dead at the scene.

The scene in Bow, east London, where a 20-metre crane collapsed on to a house leaving people trapped inside. (PA)
The 20-metre crane collapsed through metal and bricks. (PA)

Her great nephew, Sam Atkinson, 28, lived with Ms Harvey, along with his mother Jacqueline Atkinson, 63, and their dog, and were both in the house when the crane collapsed.

Atkinson described Ms Harvey as a "very caring woman" who was "loyal to her family".

He said the noise was so loud he thought a plane had crashed.

MORE: Thousands of high-risk workers to get coronavirus tests

He said: "We are devastated by our loss. We are extremely traumatised, extremely shocked.

"The last thing you ever think is going to happen is a crane coming through your roof.

"It's extremely traumatising."

Emergency personnel at the scene in Bow following the crane collapse. (PA)

Ms Harvey’s family have now set up a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral costs, which has so far raised £100.

A woman living next door to the house that was destroyed says she and her family are “lucky to be alive”, and said the collapse sounded "like an earthquake”.

In a shaking voice, the woman, who did not want to give her name, told the PA news agency she feels "traumatised".

Talking about the incident, the woman said: “I came out of the bathroom and if I had come out a second later, the attic door which is above could have fallen on me and that would have knocked me out.

MORE: 13-year-old sentenced for 'viral' attack on police officer

She added: "It is just lucky that one of my siblings was at work and the other one was downstairs. They would have been completely crushed. It is all just so upsetting.”

"We are all just so lucky to be alive – that is all I can really say.”

Local resident Alom Uddin, 28, said he was called to the scene by his cousin who said that a crane had collapsed on their house.

One person was killed when the crane collapsed on houses in Bow, east London. (PA)

He said: “It is just unbelievable. My uncle said he was just going out to the garden and saw the crane. He looked up and saw the crane coming towards him.

“Obviously, at first you are in a bit of a shock. Then he realised what was happening but before he could go in and warn everyone what was going on – the crane had already hit the house.”

A spokeswoman for London Ambulance Service said: "We treated four people at the scene. We treated two of these patients for head injuries and took them to hospital and we assessed the other two patients at the scene.”

MORE: UK could face second lockdown 'within months, if not weeks'

London mayor Sadiq Khan said: "This is a tragedy. My heartfelt condolences go out to the family of the victim who died during this incident in Bow today. I sincerely hope that the four individuals injured make a full recovery.”

A spokeswoman for Tower Hamlets said a rest centre has been set up to help those who are displaced and accommodation is being provided to those who need it.

The crane that collapsed was being used by Swan Housing Association and NU living, and appeared to be a Wolff crane.

The crane that collapsed was being used by Swan Housing Association and NU living, and appeared to be a Wolff crane. (PA)

A spokeswoman for Swan Housing Association and NU living said they are "deeply saddened by an incident that has occurred at our Watts Grove development site this afternoon", adding: "Our staff are on site to provide support to the emergency response and the investigation."

Work on the Watts Grove site began in 2018 where the one, two and three-bed shared ownership apartments are replacing an electrical substation building, according to the NU living website.

MORE: Pub bans under-25s for ‘refusing to adhere to any social distancing rules’

Neil Marney, chief executive of Marney Construction, said his company was working on another site and he could see the crane being erected on Tuesday.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said around 40 people were asked to leave their homes following the incident, but added that as people returned from work the number of residents affected could have increased.

View of the damage caused in Bow after the crane collapsed. (PA)

Speaking about the crane, Biggs said: "It was still being erected as I understand it.”

Asked how long people will be out of their homes, he added: "No idea whatsoever. Obviously you need to make sure the site is safe."

Biggs said there is a possibility that utilities and supplies of water and electricity may be affected by the damage.

Four people were treated at the scene of the incident. (PA)

He said structural engineering assessments will need to be carried out to check whether structures are safe, and said that "ideally" people will be back in their homes on Thursday, but that it may be "a few days yet”.

Meanwhile, Unite national officer Jerry Swain said there must be “an urgent, full and complete investigation into the circumstances that led to this accident”.

He added: “The preliminary findings of which must be released in weeks, rather than months or years, in order to ensure that similar accidents are avoided in the future.”

Metropolitan Police said in a statement that a joint investigation is under way involving officers from the Met’s Central East Command Unit and Specialist Crime, the Health and Safety Executive, and the London Fire Brigade.

A cordon around the scene is expected to remain in place for the next few days and no arrests have been made.