April 11, 2006

Three injured as UK scaffolding collapses

LONDON (Reuters) - Three people were seriously injured on
Tuesday when scaffolding on a partially built building
collapsed in high winds, hospital officials and police said.

Eyewitnesses said the scaffolding on the building site in
Milton Keynes, north of London, fell like a "pack of cards."

Thames Valley police said three men had been rescued from
the site at a new Jury's Inn hotel development at Witan Gate
and taken to hospital.

"We have received three casualties," a spokesman for Milton
Keynes General Hospital told Reuters. "All are classed as being
seriously injured."

The three men were in a stable condition after having been
treated for leg, chest and facial injuries.

A spokesman for the ambulance service said several people
were treated for minor injuries at the scene.

Eamonn Laverty, managing director of site contractors
McAleer and Rushe, said the scaffolding had collapsed in high

"Our prime concern is for the health and well-being of the
individuals involved in the incident and to this end we are
awaiting an update on their condition from the hospital,"
Laverty said.

Chief Inspector Andy Standen of Thames Valley police said
firefighters had been using heat-seeking equipment to recover
people trapped on the site.

"The three guys who have been hauled from the wreckage were
very, very fortunate not to have died," Standen told reporters.

"If you consider a 14-storey scaffolding structure
collapsing while building work is continuing, the people of
Milton Keynes are lucky it was not much, much worse."

Standen said a "thorough investigation" would be carried
out by health and safety officials.

One witness reported a "huge roar" as debris plunged to the

"I saw it concertina down," witness Doug Masson told
reporters. "It took no more than 20 seconds to fall.

"It sounded like a low rumbling of thunder."

Local resident Christopher Key told Sky News the collapsed
scaffolding looked like a "pile of matchsticks."

Up to 20 ambulances and two air ambulances were called to
the scene.