Wednesday 21 February 2018

Four feared dead after power station collapses

Emergency services worked long into the night at Didcot on the rescue operation
Emergency services worked long into the night at Didcot on the rescue operation
Deputy chief fire officer Nathan Travis gives a press briefing at Didcot

David Wilcock and Cristina Criddle

Four people were feared dead last night following a major building collapse at Didcot Power Station, in England.

One person was confirmed dead, three were missing and five were in hospital following the incident yesterday afternoon.

Emergency services declared a "major incident" after being called to the scene in south Oxfordshire at 4pm.

The collapse happened at the former coal-fired Didcot A plant, which closed in 2013 and was in the process of being demolished.

Area manager Mat Carlile, from Thames Valley Fire Control Service, said yesterday evening: "I can confirm search operations are in progress and that there has been one fatality, five persons have been taken to hospital and three persons are currently missing."

The fire service advised people to stay indoors, saying that while dust from the collapse had covered "a considerable area" there were no hazardous materials in the building.

Fire engines from Oxfordshire were at the scene, along with specialist search units and further teams from Thames Valley Police and South Central Ambulance Service, including six ambulances and two air ambulance helicopters.

Pictures from the scene showed a significant chunk of a building in the defunct Didcot A site collapsed, with a large amount of debris on the ground.

A GMB union official said: "We understand that workers were preparing two boilers for demolition in the coming weeks. This led to the collapse of a building."

The plant closed in 2013 and hundreds gathered to watch when three of its enormous cooling towers were demolished.

David Cooke, whose company Thames Cryogenics has a building overlooking the power station, said: "Our building shook and as we looked out of the window, the end of the main turbine hall collapsed in a huge pile of dust.

"It totally obscured the towers and must have drifted across the roads and main rail line. What's left looks a tangled mess.

"The dust was hanging over the area for five to 10 minutes.

"First thought was it didn't looked planned, followed by the thought that people are going to have been hurt."

Witness Bill McKinnon told the BBC: "I was sitting in my front room, I can see the power station quite clearly from where I am - it's only about 400 yards away.

"When I heard the explosion and the very loud rumbling, by the time I had got up and looked out of the window there was a huge cloud of dust which came through and over our village."

Irish Independent

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