Didcot Power Station Collapse Leaves One Dead & Three Missing
One person has been killed and others are receiving hospital treatment following the ‘major incident’ at Didcot Power station. Expert search teams are currently surveying the area in an attempt to locate the three people that remain missing since part of the Oxford power station collapsed yesterday (Tuesday 23rd February 2016).
A large building, approximately 300m long and ten storeys high, at the site of the former coal-fired Didcot A plant partially collapsed. At around 4pm yesterday search and rescue teams, along with ambulance, police and fire crews were called to the area.
The building at the Didcot A site had been due for demolition sometime this year; however the collapse of the building, which has been closed since 2013, was not planned.
nPower, the owner of power stations Didcot A and B, released the following statement via a spokesperson:
“We can confirm that shortly after 4pm this afternoon part of the boiler house at our former Didcot A power station site in Oxfordshire collapsed while an external demolition contractor was working in it. Our thoughts are with the families of all those involved in this tragedy.”
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the firm responsible for the upcoming planned demolition, Birmingham based Coleman and Company, told the Oxford Mail that the site was “under demolition”. However she could not confirm if there were explosives at the site at the time of the collapse. Coleman and Company have not yet released an official statement regarding the incident, but they sent the following tweet on Tuesday afternoon:
“We are aware of an incident at Didcot A Power Station. We are working with all stakeholders to establish facts and will keep you updated.”
Nathan Travis, Oxfordshire’s deputy chief fire officer, said:
“It is with great sadness that I have to confirm one person has died during this incident. Our priority now is to find the three missing people.
“The search will be a considerable undertaking due to the instability of the site. We expect the search will continue through the night and possibly into the coming days.”
Travis told reporters at the site that at the height of the commotion, there were around 60 firefighters and at least three fire engines at the scene. He explained that the methods being used to locate the three missing workers was one that has previously been implemented & trialled abroad by specialists after earthquakes. When asked if his officers had handled something of this magnitude before, he replied:
“In terms of Oxfordshire it is unique.”
Travis also added that there was no sort of indication as to how long the search operation would last.
Search & Rescue
Along with numerous fire engines from Oxfordshire, six ambulances, Thames Valley police and specialist search teams with sniffer dogs, two air ambulances also attended the scene.
Urban search and rescue teams from Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes are reported to have offered assistance in the form of eleven people and for search vehicles. Their involvement has led to the theory that there are people trapped in the rubble of the building.
Casualties from the collapse are being transported to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford. According to Oxford university hospitals NHS foundation trust, the public have been asked to steer clear of the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford unless it is a “serious or life-threatening emergencies”.
It has been reported four casualties are in stable and non-life threatening condition, while one man is in a serious but again, not life-threatening condition. A further two casualties were being treated for minor injuries.
RWE nPower tweeted:
“We are working with our contractors Coleman and Company to establish the facts re the tragic events at #Didcot”
A GMB union official told the Press Association:
“We understand that workers were preparing two boilers for demolition in the coming weeks. This led to the collapse of a building.”
The official added that he did not consider the collapse to be the result of an explosion.
Ed Vaizey, MP for the Didcot and Wantage areas, tweeted:
“Very concerned about terrible events at Didcot power station. Praying for workers and their families.”
While Bill McKinnon, who witnessed the collapse, 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.
“About 4 o’clock, 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.
“When that had cleared I noticed that half of the old power station, where they used to keep the generators, half of that was missing.
Mr McKinnon added:
“I was a little bit surprised because normally the contractors let us know when they are going to do explosions, so I was a bit surprised because we hadn’t heard anything.
“Very shortly afterwards the air ambulance turned up and then fire engines and ambulances started arriving, and a little while after that another air ambulance turned up, and I think they are still there.”
David Cooke, of Thames Cryogenics, has a building overlooking the power station. He 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.”
Thames Valley police tweeted:
“We remain at Didcot Power Station following a report of collapsed building. We will share more details as soon as they are confirmed #Didcot”
Didcot B Site
The former coal-fired station, Didcot A, opened in 1970 and was eventually converted in order to able to generate power from natural gas. Three of its six cooling towers were due to be demolished in the coming months, following the controlled demolition of the other three last year. Several large buildings on site were also due to be demolished soon with the RWE npower website stating that demolition of the entire site is due to be completed by the end of 2016.
It is not yet clear if modern gas-fired power station, Didcot B, situated next to the collapsed plant, has been affected by the incident.
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Source: BBC; The Guardian