At least one dead as building collapses at former UK power plant

Damage from the explosion at the power plant, as seen in a video.
Damage from the explosion at the power plant, as seen in a video. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE
An explosion at the British power plant, captured on video.
An explosion at the British power plant, captured on video. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

LONDON (Reuters/AFP) – At least one person was killed and three others were missing after a building collapsed on Tuesday (Feb 23) at a disused British power plant, the local fire service said. 

The incident occurred at the RWE npower Didcot A power plant, around 113 km west of London. The plant closed in 2013 and was in the process of being demolished.

“I can confirm search operations are in progress and that there has been one fatality, five persons have been taken to hospital and three persons are currently missing,” Oxfordshire Fire Service Area Manager Mat Carlile said in a statement. 

Residents told local media there had been a large rumble, prompting reports there had been an explosion.

Television pictures showed half a large building at the site appeared to have collapsed.  However, emergency services said they were treating the incident as a building collapse and although dust had spread over a considerable area, there had been no hazardous materials inside.

“There has been an incident at our former Didcot A Power Station site,” RWE npower said in a statement.

“The site is currently being demolished. We are working with our contractors Coleman and Company to establish the facts.”

David Cooke, whose company Thames Cryogenics has a building overlooking the power station, said: “Our building shook and as we looked out of the window, the end of the main turbine hall collapsed in a huge pile of dust.”

“It totally obscured the towers and must have drifted across the roads and main rail line. What’s left looks a tangled mess.”

Around 50 people were treated for dust inhalation at the scene.  Casualties were taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in nearby Oxford, said Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Didcot A, a dual-fired power station which could produce enough power for 2 million households, closed down in 2013 after 43 years of operation. 

In 2014, a fire broke out at Didcot B, an operational gas-fired power plant on the same site. No one was hurt but one of two power generation units had to be taken offline.