Res­cue search ‘long and dif­fi­cult’

Macclesfield Express - - BOSLEY MILL TRAGEDY -

FIRE chiefs have warned the search for the bod­ies of vic­tims and clues to how the tragedy hap­pened could take ‘a long time’.

Paul Han­cock, Cheshire’s chief fire of­fi­cer, said the scene was one of ‘com­plete dev­as­ta­tion’ which posed ‘sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges’.

Fire and res­cue teams have been work­ing non-stop since Fri­day morn­ing in a des­per­ate at­tempt to find any sur­vivors.

But Mr Han­cock said they were now in a ‘search and re­cov­ery’ phase rather than one of ‘search and res­cue’. He said: “This is a chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment. It is ex­cep­tion­ally hard to re­cover those in­di­vid­u­als.

“There is al­ways hope but the longer the in­ci­dent goes on then re­al­is­ti­cally we are mov­ing into a re­cov­ery phase.”

At least three ex­plo­sions ripped through the four-storey mill in Bosley.

Up­wards of 80 fire­fight­ers from Cheshire, Der­byshire, Greater Manch­ester and Stafford­shire fire and res­cue ser­vices used high vol­ume pumps to get the blaze un­der con­trol.

Fire­fight­ers faced se­ri­ous risks in­clud­ing rivers of fire caused by ig­nited kerosene and LPG cylin­ders. The 1,0000C inferno re­duced the build­ing to rub­ble as it col­lapsed in on it­self.

Ur­ban search and res­cue teams, who have searched for earth­quake and Tsunami vic­tims in Nepal and Ja­pan, moved into the build­ing in the early hours of Satur­day.

De­mo­li­tion and heavy lift­ing gear were used on site to help clear the search area.

Us­ing snif­fer dogs, the search teams painstak­ingly re­moved de­bris un­til the first body was found on Sun­day.

A 25sqm area up to 10m in depth be­came the fo­cus of the search.

A sec­ond body was found on Tues­day.

Mr Han­cock said teams had re­moved ‘sev­eral tons’ of rub­ble, brick and mor­tar, as well as steel and pipework.

Jagged steel­work and iron gird­ers point up at the sky at all an­gles, and be­low there is a a pyra­mid of man­gled ma­sonry and steel, with iron sheet­ing from the mill roof lit­ter­ing the site and sur­round­ing fields – ev­i­dence of the force of the blast.

Across the road lead­ing into the mill, the win­dows and even win­dow frames have been blown out of some homes in a row of ter­raced cot­tages.

Do­minic Sal­ter

●● Search and res­cue teams at the scene on Satur­day

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