16 people have been injured in a stampede at a Slimming World group in Southend On Sea. 

At around 3pm on Tuesday, the afternoon session of the popular weight-loss club at the Leonard Gunting Community Centre was about to open, with witnesses saying that ‘around 100 people’ were desperately shuffling towards the main door.

One onlooker told our Chief Reporter that a fault with the centre’s main door meant that only a narrow fire exit was open for access.

He added: ‘Post-Christmas is always an incredibly busy time for the club, and when the fire door swung open people were frantically trying to get in and secure their place.’

‘Unfortunately, one gentleman was having some difficulty getting in, and the build-up of people behind him started to cause a catastrophic level of pressure on the surrounding brickwork.’

‘When the door frame and wall finally gave way and crumbled, at least 30 people lurched forward. I can only describe it as some sort of roly poly scrum.’

‘It all seems a bit silly really as they have had all year to sign up.’

‘On the positive side, the guy at the bottom must have benched like 1200 pounds to get himself free. If that isn’t body magic, I don’t know what is.’

In a late development, police were called to a neighbouring group meeting in Westcliff during a fight over a syn-free couscous cake that turned out to be a tweak. There was another violent incident last year when a brawl broke out between rival Slimming World and Weight Watchers members due to their hall being double-booked.