[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006, 03:13 GMT 04:13 UK
Probe begins into floor collapse
Surveyor at the former shop
An investigation has begun at the former shop
An investigation has begun into why a Birmingham building's floor collapsed injuring mourners at a funeral wake.

At least 16 people, including children, were treated in hospital. Injuries included fractures and bruising.

Up to 50 people were in the former corner shop in Lozells Street, in the Handsworth area, when the floor gave way and fell into the cellar on Sunday.

A fire service spokesman said they were greeted by a "scene of devastation" and it was fortunate no-one was killed.

The accident happened just after 1300 BST when a coffin containing a 23-year-old man who had died of leukaemia was brought into the room.

Cellar fall

As people moved forward, the wooden floorboards gave way and the mourners plunged 15ft into the cellar.

Division Officer Mark Taylor, of West Midlands Fire Service, told BBC Five Live about the scene when fire officers arrived.

"There were about 250 people actually on the road, and this was made up largely of neighbours and friends who were trying to effect the rescue of people who were in the building," he said.

"Directly outside the shop, the ambulance had set up a triage area where they were assessing the casualties to take them to the various hospitals."

There was no warning, one second the floor was there and then it just disappeared from under us all
Mourner Ghazanffar Ali

Ghazanffar Ali, 35, the uncle of the man the wake was being held for, said: "There was no warning - one second the floor was there and then it just disappeared from under us all.

"I just thought to myself, we were here mourning one person and now we will have to mourn some more.

Mohammed Shahban, 29, was one of the first on the scene.

"I heard lots of screaming and ran into the house to find lots of women in a hole in the floor.

"I tried to get as many out as I could. One looked like she had a broken leg."

'Sheer weight'

About 20 ambulances were sent to the scene, with most of the injured being taken to City Hospital and Sandwell and Dudley Hospital.

Acting Inspector Paul Robb, from West Midlands Police, told BBC News the floorboards and joists in the building appeared to be more than 100 years old.

"It looks like the sheer weight of the people inside those premises have actually made the floor collapse," he added.

Fire officers spent an hour-and-a-half at the building rescuing people inside and making sure no-one was left trapped under the rubble.

The scene was made secure before structural engineers were called in to assess the building's stability.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
More details of the collapse




PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific