A street dancing flashmob organised by T-Mobile was sprung on unsuspecting steelworkers yesterday, causing a spill of molten iron that has left 16 dead and 40 injured. Two workers and 29 bodypoppers are in a critical condition.
After choreographing a mass dance at Heathrow Airport and a singalong in Trafalgar Square, T-Mobile's latest flashmob commercial, filmed at the Corex steel foundry near Dudley, was intended to evoke the spirit of the popular 1980s movie 'Flashdance'.
A tracklist of songs designed to resonate with the 1980s theme, including David Bowie's Magic Dance and Kenny Loggins' Playing with the Boys, provided the soundtrack to a logistically complex routine involving over 60 amateur and professional street dancers.
"The dancers wore boiler suits identical to those used by the plant's workers," said a T-Mobile spokesman. "Plus we gave them forged IDs so they could pass through security checks undetected. That way it was a genuine surprise when they broke into their amazing routine, and we could get the fantastic reaction shots for which our flashmob adverts have become famous."
"It was the stuff of nightmares," said Doug Reardon, the duty foreman. "We'd just begun work when the guys manning the blast furnaces suddenly vaulted over each other's backs and mimed being in a car. We didn't know what was going on. Then they started prancing about to the theme tune from Beverly Hills Cop. We yelled at them to watch out but they were completely oblivious."
Workers who escaped the catastrophe have reported horrific scenes and fire services have been removing bodies throughout the day.
One survivor watched TV dance troupe Diversity disappear beneath a tidal wave of super-heated liquid steel. "They were popping and locking and then they were gone," he said.
Attempts to radio the control room appear to have failed because the safety manager had been replaced by Britain's Got Talent winner George Sampson. Reardon claims that Sampson was spinning on his head and clicking his fingers at the same time, "Instead of focusing on the emergency shutdown procedures."
Despite the high number of fatalities, T-Mobile have insisted that the flashmob was a success, and intend to debut a three-minute version of the commercial at 10pm on every major UK TV channel later this month.
"We got a lot of usable footage," said their spokesman. "We can edit out the screaming and burning."