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Dockyard emergency as 60-year-old crane collapses

A loud bang could be heard across Falmouth as the crane crashed down. Credit: ITV West Country

Eyewitnesses say dock workers are lucky to have escaped injury after a crane collapsed at Falmouth docks after just before 9am this morning, 10 May.

The crane, which has dominated the town skyline since 1957, crashed to the ground as it was being used on a shi. The boom was hanging over the ship when, with a loud bang, part of the mechanism failed and flew off.

The crane driver had the foresight to bring the boom back onto the quayside before it crashed down - but it landed on a group of gas cylinders used in welding.

The crumpled structure left on the dockside Credit: ITV West Country

It caused fears of a big gas leak and a major incident was declared. Fire crews were called out to deal with damaged acetylene cylinders.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used thermal imaging cameras to assess the damaged cylinders and jet sprays were used to disperse any gas that had leaked.

A firefighter suffered minor injuries during the checks and was taken to the local minor injuries unit as a precaution.

Some of the workers who were forced to leave their posts by the emergency Credit: ITV West Country

The bang and sirens could be heard across the town. The docks and surrounding homes were evacuated and a 200m exclusion zone put in place as a precaution.

None of the dockworkers - or the crane operator - was hurt. Peter Coles, paint supervisor at Pendennis shipyard, was working nearby when the docks crane collapsed. He says the whole earth shook and he was surprised and relieved to learn that nobody was hurt or even killed.

"The whole earth shook"

One former dock worker says he was not surprised to hear which crane had been involved, particularly when you see the rusty parts of the structure.

It is one of the oldest ones. They go back years, that sort of crane. Obviously one of the cables broke and it came down but, thankfully, there was nobody injured. It's got rust on the arms coming down so really speaking it should be maintained.

– Raymond Sprackling, Retired dockyard worker
The docks were sealed off at the height of the emergency Credit: ITV West Country

The investigation into the accident has now been handed to the docks management team.