Cheshire Mill explosion: Four missing people named by police

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Firemen at the scene of the mill explosion

Four people feared dead after a mill explosion have been named by UK police.

William Barks, 51, Dorothy Bailey, 62, Jason Shingler, 38, and Derek Moore, 62, are still missing somewhere in the devastated wreckage of the wood flour mill after an explosion and 1,000 centigrade inferno reduced the four-storey building to rubble.

Police and fire chiefs say fire and rescue teams have been working non-stop since the blast around 9.10am on Friday at the mill in the village of Bosley, Cheshire.

But fire chiefs concede while they carry on the methodical search of the site, the chances of finding the four alive are fading.

And today it emerged council officers had been on the site two weeks ago to supervise a clean-up.

Guy Hindle, assistant chief constable of Cheshire Police, confirmed the names of those missing and said the search for them still continues more than 48 hours after the initial blast.

He said: “We are still in search phase, we are still looking for signs of life down at the scene… at some point in the next days we will hand over the scene from fire to police for a joint investigation with the Health and Safety Executive to establish the cause of what happened down there, together with fire investigators.”

Paul Hancock, chief fire officer for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “At this moment in time we have not been able to locate anybody but we firmly believe we are searching the right areas.

“Our thoughts continue to be with the family.

“The whole mental psyche of the crews down at the site is they are looking for people still alive. They will not give up hope until they locate these four individuals.

“The scene down there is one of complete devastation. We have a building that has exploded from the inside and subsequently collapsed in on itself.

“There are huge complexities around the challenges for the search and rescue teams – we are working close to a bank of six silos, three of which have fallen over in the explosion and the other three are still quite unstable.

“Again we are taking our time in a methodical search of other areas but are also conscious that there are risks still there in the vicinity.”

William Barks, 51, Dorothy Bailey, 62, Jason Shingler, 38, and Derek Moore, 62
William Barks, 51, Dorothy Bailey, 62, Jason Shingler, 38, and Derek Moore, 62

Details have emerged that council enforcement officers were on the site just two weeks ago to make sure the firm cleared the area after complaints of saw dust. The site was also struck by two fires, in 2010 and 2012.

Michael Jones, leader of Cheshire East council, said: “We were on site two weeks ago clearing it up and they did well to clear it up. We will produce that evidence as and when necessary.

“The fact is this is the sort of industry that has a lot of problems tied to the dust and what happens around it.

“We shouldn’t assume anything. We mustn’t go down the trail of assuming anything. We will make all facts available of what we know.

“There are on-going complaints, but when you have this nature of business, close to a community, there will be complaints about dust and noise and pollution which we as a council have been dealing with.”

Mr Jones continued: “I think we need to be very calm about what that could mean and might not mean. We really mustn’t prejudge anything. The police and HSE need to investigate, but we do have complaints that we have monitored and taken care of and we will make all that available to you.

“We were there to clean up a situation of dust particles in the area, at the exterior to it, that shouldn’t have been in there and we did clear it up and we have got before and after pictures showing what a job they did and they did comply completely with our orders.”

Mr Jones said the council was now working to re-house six families whose homes have been damaged in the blast.

Police said they will be working in the next few days with the company – which has yet to make any statement about the incident.

David Rutley, the MP for Macclesfield, said: “I think its important to say the business does need to get involved with the investigation, because there are questions in the community that need to be answered, and today is not that day, today is about the families and in due course those questions, those important questions, will need to be answered.”

Earlier today, prayers were said at St Mary the Virgin parish church in Bosley, with loved ones of the missing joining the congregation.

The Rev John Harries told parishioners: “Our hearts and thoughts and prayers go out to those still waiting – waiting for news, still sat by the bedsides of their loved ones in hospital, and for those still trying to come to terms with all that has happened over the last 48 hours.

“Four people missing, four in hospital. Others are experiencing breathing difficulties, and still others are just suffering from the trauma, still seeing the flames in the sky.

“Homes destroyed, families distraught, a community in deep distress.”

Local Methodist minister the Rev Pam Butler, whose church is within the police cordon close to the mill, spoke of “the turmoil of emotion each of us is experiencing”.

She added: “Our hearts go out to all who were there.

“People, it’s fair to say, are feeling angry as well as (having an) overwhelming feeling of sadness.

“We do have in our midst the loved ones of those who are still missing.”

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