NO signs of life have been found during the emergency services’ search for three people missing after a collapse at the former Didcot power station
NO signs of life have been found during the emergency services’ search for three people missing after a collapse at the former Didcot power station.
One person was killed and five others injured when a massive section of the old turbine hall gave way.
Firefighters and specialist rescue teams have been searching through a 30ft high pile of concrete and mangled steel using sniffer dogs, drones and listening devices but say it is “highly unlikely” the missing people are still alive.
Scores of people have been working night and day since the incident at about 4pm on Tuesday when witnesses described seeing a massive grey-brown cloud of dust. Yesterday (Thursday) the army was brought in to help. All the missing and injured workers are employed by demolition contractor the Coleman Group, which has been dismantling the former coal-fired Didcot A plant, which closed in 2013.
The dead man was reported to be biker Mick Collins, from Brotton, near Middlesbrough, a member of Teesriders Motorcycle Club.
The families of the missing men were taken to the scene on Wednesday.
Dave Etheridge, chief fire officer for Oxfordshire, said: “We have just spoken with the police to the families, who are obviously distraught.
“We have explained that we have not picked up any signs of life from our listening devices but we are doing everything we can to locate their loved ones, regardless of whether they are still alive or not.
“The extent of this incident, the nature of the collapse and the location where the missing people were working means that it is highly unlikely the three missing people are still alive.
“We have tried the construction site radios and had no response and we see this as significant.
The rescue teams are working through the debris, with their safety being my first consideration. However, everything we are doing remains consistent with a rescue operation. The rescue teams are working under very difficult circumstances, with a structure that is unsafe and with unstable piles of materials from the collapsed building.
“We are currently using sniffer dogs, listening devices and drones and we are looking at the possibility of using remote-controlled probes to access dangerous parts of the site. This enables us to cover areas that are too risky for rescue teams to go themselves.
“Progress has been slow but we are making progress working through the debris. We anticipate that this exercise is going to be prolonged and difficult. People need to be prepared for this operation taking several days, possibly several weeks.
“I have given a personal undertaking to the families that we will do everything we can to recover their loved ones. My heart goes out to them as they wait for news.”
The Health and Safety Executive has begun an investigation.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, David Cameron said: “I know that the whole House will join me in sending our condolences to the family and friends of the victim and our best wishes to those who are still missing or injured.
“I pay tribute to the quick and incredibly brave actions of our emergency services, who dealt with the incident with typical professionalism.
“The Health and Safety Executive will carry out a full investigation to find out what led to the tragedy.”