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Bosley explosion search ‘could become recovery mission’

The search for four people who are missing after an explosion devastated a mill may soon be treated as a “recovery operation” rather than a rescue.

The four-storey Wood Flour Mills in Bosley, near Macclesfield in Cheshire, collapsed after the blast on Friday.

Pockets of the area are still alight and dogs are being used to search for the missing three men and one woman.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said they would be working to protect what could potentially be a crime scene.

‘Always hope’

The four missing people were believed to have been in the building and near the seat of the explosion that ripped through the wood treatment works at about 09:10 BST.

Chief fire officer Paul Hancock said: “There’s still hope but the longer the incident continues without knowing or locating these four individuals, it is looking more like a recovery than a rescue operation.

“Until we account for them there’s always hope.”

The teams poised to enter the blast site have experience working in the aftermath of earthquakes in Nepal, Japan and the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand.

Four people are reported missing at the site
Macclesfield MP David Rutley said there was a “really deep sense of shock” locally

On Friday, 35 people were assessed at the scene with four people treated for breathing difficulties and another four people taken to hospitals in Birmingham, Merseyside and Stoke.

One 29-year-old woman sustained serious burns and blast injuries to her head, face, arms and chest.

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Firefighters are continuing to use water to cool silos on the site and assess temperatures using thermal image cameras, a spokesman for the fire service said.

They will be working alongside Cheshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive to establish the cause of the blast, he added.

‘Search dog’

The Conservative MP for Macclesfield, David Rutley, said there was a “really deep sense of shock” locally.

“It’s something that’s affected most people who live in the village, because they all know somebody that works there…or worked there themselves.”

Fire crews described seeing a “scene of devastation” when they arrived.

The building contained heating oil, kerosene, acetylene and asbestos. There is also a silo containing highly flammable wood flour used for making wood laminate flooring.

The fire service added: “Cheshire’s search dog Bryn and his handler have started initial work on part of the site with other search dogs en route to the site.

“Specialist equipment is being organised to move two vehicles near the factory which were badly damaged in the fire to improve access to the factory.”

The explosion took place at Bosley, between Macclesfield and Congleton in Cheshire


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