ONE person is dead, and three more are missing, following the partial collapse of a disused gas-fired power station in Didcot, Oxfordshire, UK, at 16:00 on Tuesday.
Four more have been injured, and have been taken to hospital for treatment and more than 40 people have been treated for dust inhalation at the scene.
Search and rescue operations are under way for the three missing workers. The specialist teams are using sniffer dogs and aerial footage from drones to help search through the 9 m high piles of rubble.
In a recent briefing, Dave Etheridge, chief fire officer for Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said that the search operation has thus far been unsuccessful. He stated efforts will continue over the coming days and weeks, although he believes that it is “highly unlikely” the missing workers are alive.
'We have just spoken to the families who are obviously distraught. We have explained to them we have not picked up any signs of life but we are doing everything we can,” he added.
The former Didcot A power station, which was closed in 2013, was scheduled for demolition in the coming months. An approximately 300 m long, ten-stories tall section of the building collapsed uncontrollably while workers were on-site.
A spokesperson for Npower, the owner of the former Didcot A and B stations said, “We can confirm that shortly after 4pm part of the Boiler House at our former Didcot A power station site collapsed while an external demolition contractor was working in it.”
Coleman and Company, the contracted demolition firm for the site, said, “We are working with the emergency services currently on site to locate those missing and understand the cause of this collapse.”
Nathan Travis, deputy chief fire officer for Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said the there have been 50 to 60 firefighters working at the scene, and the rescue techniques employed are similar to those used by specialists following earthquake collapses.
The site is also being assessed for further safety concerns. A spokesperson for HSE said, “HSE inspectors are on site at the Didcot A Power station. HSE are presently assisting the police and the emergency services.”
Didcot A was first opened in the 1970 as a coal-fired power station and was converted to generate electricity from natural gas. Didcot B is a gas-fired power station located adjacent to Didcot A that is currently operational. Npower has yet to comment if the functionality of Didcot B has been affected by this incident.
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