Searches of flour mill continue as police name four missing workers caught in explosion

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Four people missing after an explosion ripped through a flour mill have been named by police as the emergency services continue to search the building’s wreckage.

Paul Hancock, chief fire officer for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS), said rescuers are searching two specific areas of the collapsed building in Bosley, Cheshire.

He described it as “a very, very challenging and demanding environment”.

He added: “We are slowly and methodically accessing those two areas. We firmly believe we are searching the right areas.”

The four people still missing - three men and a woman - are believed to have been in the building near the seat of the explosion which ripped through the wood flour mill at around 9.10am on Friday.

The four workers still missing were named as William Barks, 51, Dorothy Bailey, 62, Jason Shingler, 38, and Derek Moore, 62.

Mr Hancock said: “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.”

Guy Hindle, assistant chief constable of Cheshire Police, confirmed the names 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.”

Mr Hancock said rescuers worked throughout the night, concentrating on the two search areas near collapsed silos.

He added: “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.”

But more 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.

It has also emerged there were two fires at the site 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 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.”