Mystery surrounds the death of six-year-old boy thought to have died from suspected slurry fume accident on farm


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The Independent Online

A six-year-old boy who died in a farm accident in Northern Ireland has been named as Harry Starrett.

Ambulance personnel were called to the farm at the Ballynahonemore Road in Hamiltonsbawn shortly after 5pm yesterday and a boy was rushed to Craigavon Area Hospital.

It was believed the youngster was overcome by slurry fumes in the milking parlour at his grandfather's farm in Co Armagh.

However, while investigators from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are examining whether he was overcome by slurry fumes from a tank adjacent to the parlour, it is understood initial tests at the scene in the wake of the incident did not detect high levels of toxic gases.

A post-mortem is being carried out on Wednesday in a bid to confirm the cause.

The Lord Mayor of Armagh, Robert Turner, expressed his shock over the incident, describing it as another farm tragedy.

"The entire area is in a state of shock that a six-year-old boy has lost his life", he said.

"I know his family and I wish to pass on my sincere condolences."

Armagh district councillor Jim Speers said the incident was an "absolute tragedy".

"I know the family well, I know the parents and grandparents on both sides. It's just so sad," he said.

"What can you say? It's such a tragedy for any family to experience."

Harry Sinclair, President of the Ulster Farmers' Union, said the entire farming community was in a state of shock.

He said: "Our thoughts go to that family and the whole agriculture community will be thinking of that family."

Ulster Unionist agriculture spokeswoman Jo-Anne Dobson MLA said the death was deeply saddening.

She said: "Incidents such as this stand as a stark reminder of just how dangerous farming can be. This is a busier than usual time of year on our farms and as the activity rises, so too do the risks.

"For children farms can be full of adventure and fun. However, we must always be mindful of the risks, especially as the hot weather is forecast to return in the coming days."

12 people died last year as a result of farm-related accidents in Northern Ireland.

They included three members of the Spence family, who were killed n a slurry tank accident in September.

Additional reporting by PA