Watch: Multiple casualties after waste water works explosion
Four people have died after a “large explosion” at a waste water treatment centre near Bristol.
Police confirmed that three Wessex Water employees and a contractor died after the blast, while another person was injured.
It is thought the blast involved a chemical tank at Wessex Water’s recycling centre in Avonmouth.
Avon Fire and Rescue Service said police and paramedics joined its firefighters at the scene as part of the major incident, after being called out at 11.22am on Thursday.
Chief Inspector Mark Runacres confirmed the deaths at a news conference in the afternoon, while Boris Johnson said “our hearts go out” to the victims.
“The fire service led the rescue operation but sadly, despite the best efforts of all those involved, we can confirm there have been four fatalities,” Ch Ins Runacres said.
“This includes three employees of Wessex Water and one contractor.
“Specially trained officers have this afternoon made contact with each of the families of those individuals and informed them of the sad news.
“This is a tragic incident and our thoughts and sympathies go out to them.”
He added: “A fifth person was also injured but their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
“A thorough investigation will be carried out into what happened today, involving a number of agencies and the Health and Safety executive in due course, and we will not be speculating on the cause of the explosion while such work is being undertaken.
“I can confirm though that this is not being treated as a terror-related incident.”
Avon and Somerset Police tweeted that it believes there are “no ongoing public safety concerns” but urged people to avoid the area while emergency services work at the scene.
We would like to reassure the public there is not believed to be any ongoing public safety concerns following the incident this morning.
However, we'd continue to urge people to avoid the area if possible to enable the emergency services to carry out their work at the scene.
— Avon and Somerset Police (@ASPolice) December 3, 2020
Ch Insp Runacres said earlier: “Officers remain at the scene and are likely to be for some time as we work together with other agencies in dealing with this major incident.
“A cordon has been set up and we’d advise members of the public to avoid the area at this time, where possible, to allow the emergency services to carry out their work.
“Police inquiries into exactly what happened are at a very early stage and are continuing.”
🚨🚨 We are currently responding to an incident after being called to a large explosion in Avonmouth. Crews from @AFRSAvonmouth @AFRSSouthmead @AFRSYate @AFRSPatchway @AFRSKingswood & @AFRSTemple are in attendance. Thread. 🚨🚨
— Avon Fire & Rescue Service (@AvonFireRescue) December 3, 2020
Luke Gazzard, from Avon Fire and Rescue Service, said the incident was “very challenging”.
“Our initial crews attended within five minutes and in total we had six fire engines, a turntable ladder, urban search and rescue teams and two search and rescue dogs on scene.
“During the incident we located four casualties who unfortunately were confirmed as deceased.”
Jawad Burhan, who was working in a warehouse nearby, said: “I heard the sound... after 10 minutes I saw the helicopter coming and the police.”
The prime minister tweeted after the four deaths were confirmed.
Deeply saddened to learn that four people have lost their lives in the water works explosion in Avonmouth. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families.
Thank you to the emergency services who attended the scene.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 3, 2020
Labour MP for Bristol North West Darren Jones thanked emergency services and said it was the second “serious incident” in Avonmouth recently.
I’m conscious this is the second serious incident in Avonmouth in as many weeks. Once our emergency services have resolved this incident and helped any injured workers, I’ll be calling on the @EnvAgency @H_S_E and others to ensure lessons are being learnt for the future.
— Darren Jones MP (@darrenpjones) December 3, 2020
Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said his thoughts are with all affected by the blast.
There has been a large explosion at the Wessex Water site on Kings Weston Lane in Avomouth. Thank you to @AvonFireRescue @ASPolice and @swasFT who are doing their very best to help all those involved. My thoughts are with anyone affected by this incident.
— Marvin Rees (@MarvinJRees) December 3, 2020
Watch: The COVID dos and don’ts of Christmas this year