Major search for power station missing


Didcot Power Station collapse: Major search for missing

Image caption
The building collapsed while a demolition contractor was working in it, an Npower spokeswoman said

A major search operation is under way to find three people missing after a building at Didcot power station collapsed and left one person dead.

Rescuers using sniffer dogs have been at the Didcot A Power Station site since a major incident was declared.

Initial reports suggested an explosion took place at 16:00 GMT on Tuesday.

Thames Valley Fire Control Service said the collapse was a “very severe incident”, which left five other people needing hospital treatment.

Speaking from the scene, deputy chief fire officer Nathan Travis said: “Emergency crews are continuing on site overnight and there will be further assessments in the morning.

“This is a difficult situation due to the instability of the structure and the safety of emergency personnel is our biggest consideration.”

Media captionAerial footage shows the site of the collapse at Didcot

A 100m cordon remains in place around the site and specialist search and rescue teams from Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and the West Midlands, are searching a rubble pile up to 30ft in height.

Mr Travis said: “My thoughts are with the families of the missing people who have been waiting all night for news who I know will be desperately worried.”

It was initially believed four people had been taken to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, two with serious injuries and two with minor ones, but it was later confirmed that a fifth person was also being treated at the hospital.

A further 50 people were treated at the scene for dust inhalation.

The Didcot A plant was closed in 2013 and demolition work has been taking place.

A joint statement by the emergency services said the building, which is 300m-long and 10-storeys high, was due to be demolished in the coming weeks.

Image caption
The scale of the collapse was captured by former power station employee Nigel Brady, took these before and after images

An Npower spokeswoman said the building had collapsed “while an external demolition contractor was working in it.”

“Our thoughts are with the families of all those involved in this tragedy,” he said.

The company confirmed there had been no explosion, but a partial collapse had led to the whole building coming down.

Coleman and Company, the firm behind the demolition, tweeted that it was “working with all stakeholders to establish facts” and it urged concerned relatives of employees to get in touch.

Media captionBlaine Morris-Smith: “I heard a massive explosion behind me… it looked like a controlled explosion”

A Health and Safety Executive investigation has also been launched.

The fire service said dust from the collapse covered a “considerable area” but there were no hazardous materials in the building.

Residents were urged to remain inside and keep doors and windows closed.

Adrian Redhead, who lives about a quarter of a mile away, said he had just got home from work on Tuesday afternoon when he heard a “massive noise”.

He said: “It sounded like a train had come off the rails. Sirens were all over the place. I looked outside and saw all the dust. There were loads of emergency vehicles. A load of dust came over the house.”

About Didcot A Power Station

Image caption
Three of Didcot A Power Station”s cooling towers pictured in 2007

Oxfordshire”s coal-fired Didcot A Power Station was turned off in 2013, after 43 years in service.

The station included six cooling towers, measuring 375ft (114m) in height, which dominated the skyline of the town.

Hundreds of people gathered to watch when three of the towers were demolished in the early hours of 27 July 2014.

RWE Npower expects complete deconstruction of the site by the end of this year.

A gas-burning power station – known as Didcot B – opened in 1997 on the site and continues to operate.

A major fire was declared at Didcot B in October 2014, with 20 fire crews sent to tackle the blaze, which was caused by an electrical fault.