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Four feared dead after UK power station collapse

24 February 2016

One person is confirmed  dead, three are missing and five injured after a building collapsed at Didcot Power Station in Oxfordshire. An Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said five construction workers were taken to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford following the collapse at the disused Didcot A section of the site around 4pm on February 23.

The Didcot A demolition site in late 2015 - Image: Coleman and Co.
The Didcot A demolition site in late 2015 - Image: Coleman and Co.

More than 40 people were treated at the scene for dust inhalation, and have since been discharged.

Oxfordshire chief fire officer Dave Etheridge said although the cause of the collapse was unknown it was not an explosion, as has previously been reported.  “At the moment this is being treated as a collapsed building, not an explosion, but there was a bang,” he said.
South Central Ambulance Service confirmed they sent an air ambulance, three road ambulances, a rapid response vehicle and a hazardous area response team to the power station.

At a press conference on February 24, Etheridge said there have been “no signs of life detected” at the scene and that it is “highly unlikely” that the remaining missing persons are alive. The collapse saw thousands of tonnes of concrete and steel reduced to rubble.
He said that search teams had been using thermal imaging, drones, and sniffer dogs but had detected no signs of life, and that teams had received no response from the missing persons’ radio, which was “highly significant”.

Assistant chief fire officer Simon Furlong said: “The remainder of the building is very unsafe which is hampering the search. This is a very difficult situation with a very unstable structure.
“The safety of emergency service personnel has to remain our priority, while recognising how hard this must be for families waiting for news of loved ones overnight. Our sympathies are with them, and the family of the person who died here yesterday.

“The police will be taking over control of the site as part of ongoing investigation but we are continuing working with fire services from Bucks, Hants and West Midlands, and this work may continue for several days.”

The remaining sections of the coal-fired power station - which ceased operations in 2013 - were due to be demolished by the end of 2016. The plant’s cooling towers were knocked down in 2014.

The site is managed by RWE Npower and the demolition is being carried out by contractors Coleman and Co. The Health and Safety Executive and Thames Valley police are to launch an investigation into why the building collapsed.

Didcot A is located next to the Didcot B power station, which is an operational gas-fired power plant.

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