Ilford City Gates building collapse: search for casualties continuing

18:04 31 January 2012

Witnesses described the moment the building collapsed as sounding like "thunder"

Witnesses described the moment the building collapsed as sounding like "thunder"

Archant

A search for casualties caught up in the collapse of the City Gates Christian centre is continuing this evening.

London Ambulance Service crews are on standby at the scene in Clements Road, Ilford, after the building came crashing to the ground at around 4.30pm today.

One lady was checked over by paramedics at the scene soon after the collapse.

Unconfirmed reports suggest she may have fainted after the five-storey structure gave way.

It is not clear whether all people known to be at the scene have been accounted for.

Earlier it was reported thermal imaging equipment was on its way to Clements Road.

The Recorder understands workers may have left the building site for the day around 10 minutes before the collapse, though it is not clear if others were still there.

A topping out ceremony for the building was held on Wednesday, with workers posing for pictures on its roof.

It is believed internal block work on the first and second floors, along with roof weathering, had been taking place on the structure this week.

Meanwhile an eyewitness has described the moment the under-construction building collapsed as sounding like “thunder” .

Mick Pandher, 36, of Ilford, said the building fell “as though it was being demolished”.

He told the Recorder: “I looked towards the building and I thought it was a thunder storm at first.

“Seconds later, I saw the whole building going to the floor.

“It was very sudden. It was like when you see a building being demolished. It came down in a straight line.”

He also said he believed reports an object fell on to the building moments before its collapse are not correct.

An eyewitness who works in Forest House, opposite the collapsed building, said: “We heard a noise which was similar to thunder. It went on for a really long time, like 15 or 20 seconds.

“All of us ran over to the window and saw the building falling down bit by bit. It seemed to take a really long time to fall down.

“We rushed outside to see if anyone needed first aid but thankfully everyone seemed OK.

“We evacuated our building but we hope to be able to open it tomorrow depending on the situation,” she added.

“My car is in the Britannia car park and I have to leave it there overnight as I can’t get out due to the cordon.”

Another eyewitness, Rebecca Nakate, 40, of Ilford, said she saw a person lying on the floor after the collapse.

She added: “There was a car that was hit and I saw a lady shaking and crying.”

A spokesman for Redbridge Council said: “Following reports of a construction incident on Clements Road, members of the council’s building control team went to the site to advise the emergency services on the safety of the structure.

“Council officers will remain on site for as long as they are needed by emergency services.

“The area is also being monitored at the council’s emergency control centre to help manage the impact of road closures. Some council services including the Housing Advice Centre may be affected tomorrow.”

A London Fire Brigade spokesman said six fire crews and three fire rescue units are at the scene following the collapse.

Fifteen bus routes were also diverted as police cordoned off a section of Celements Road.

A Transport for London spokesman said: “The bus routes on diversion around Clements Road are the 25, 86, 123, 128, 145, 147, 150, 167, 169, 179, 296, 364, 366, 462 and the W19.”

Exchange Ilford manager Marc Myers said: “The effect on the town centre is minimal.

“We are using the business partnership medium to keep businesses up to date on how to keep the area clear.

“I want to praise the emergency services for their efforts.”

Have you witnessed what is happening in Clements Road? Do you have pictures from the scene? Call us on 020 8477 3806, email zjan.shirinian@archant.co.uk or Tweet us @ilfordrecorder.

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