The incident happened at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling, Aston Church Road in the Nechells area of Birmingham.
The four-metre-high wall comprised of concrete blocks weighing an estimated 1.5 tonnes each. The men, all of Gambian origin, were crushed when the structure gave way. It was supporting scrap metal which also fell on them when the wall collapsed.
West Midlands Fire Service received a call for assistance from West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) at 8.43am Thursday 7th July and reached the scene within five minutes.
“On our arrival it was clear that a large concrete structure containing metal had collapsed, trapping a number of people,” the fire service said in a statement. “Very sadly, five people were pronounced dead at the scene by a doctor. One other person who was seriously injured was taken to hospital by the ambulance service.”
Cranes and cutting equipment have been deployed to recover the bodies, witht he same rescue crew that has been working at Didcot power station recovery operation.
The Health & Safety Executive is also on site with a structural engineer.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Gary Taylor of West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) said: “This is a devastating incident is for everyone involved. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the victims’ families and colleagues.
“Once the police have finished their initial examination of the scene, our absolute priority will be to ensure that the bodies of those who have lost their lives are recovered in the most timely and safe way possible, and with the utmost dignity and respect.
“The scene is an extremely challenging one, involving significant tonnage of concrete and metal and a structure that is still unstable. We have an assertive recovery plan in place and expect this operation to take several hours.
“The skills and services of West Midlands Fire Service will be available for whatever needs to be done, and we will be working hand in glove with our partners at the scene.”