An explosion at a Bristol sewage treatment plant that killed four people was so violent that it shook nearby buildings, witnesses recalled.
Three Wessex Water employees and a contractor believed to have worked at the top of the silo were killed when it exploded in Avonmouth yesterday morning.
One of the bodies was reportedly discovered 500 feet from the chemical tanker, which blew up around 11 a.m. and also injured a fifth person whose injuries are not life threatening.
Witnesses were impressed by the size of the explosion – and how the excitement quickly broke out and became eerily quiet.
Sean Nolan, who witnessed the aftermath of the explosion, said, “It was pretty short lived, I'd say about two or three seconds.
& # 39; Kind of boom and echo and then it just went quiet. That's it. There was no smoke, there was no after-effect from it. & # 39;
Keiran Jenkins, who was in a nearby warehouse, said he and his colleagues stood in shock when the walls shook.
Rescue workers started a major operation with two search and rescue dogs and six firefighters on the industrial area off Kings Weston Lane after the explosion.
A major explosion at a Wessex water treatment plant near Bristol killed four people and injured one, according to emergency services
Witnesses reported a "loud bang" while others recalled emergency services rushing to the industrial area
Avon Fire & Rescue Service group leader Luke Gazzard (left) and Avon and Somerset Police Chief Inspector Mark Runacres (right) confirmed the four deaths at a press conference at the site of the explosion tonight
The picture from the scene seems to show a lot of damage to a tank that was ripped open by the explosion. It was assumed that the workers were in the tank at the time of the explosion
A witness earlier said there was a "helicopter looking for missing people" and the police had blocked a nearby road leading to the building
The fire brigade started a rescue operation in which five devices, two turntable crews and search and rescue dogs were involved. The emergency services confirmed that there were a number of victims
Witnesses reported a “loud bang” while others recalled that emergency services used to rush to the industrial site today
Avon and Somerset Police Chief Inspector Mark Runacres said at a press conference last night: “The fire service was leading the rescue operation but unfortunately, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, we can confirm that there have been four deaths. These include three Wessex Water employees and a contractor.
Specially trained officers contacted each of these people's families this afternoon and informed them of the sad news. This is a tragic incident and our thoughts and compassion go out to her. & # 39;
Stressing that there was no ongoing public health hazard, he revealed that the tanks contained treated biosolids before being returned to land as organic soil conditioners.
Luke Gazzard, who oversaw the Avon and Somerset Fire Department's response to the explosion, described it as a "very challenging incident".
He added, "Our thoughts go out to family, friends and colleagues of everyone affected by today's incident."
Police confirmed that the incident was not terrorist but refused to speculate as to the cause of the explosion. An exploded oxygen tank has been suggested as a possible cause, but this has not been confirmed.
Colin Skellett, CEO of Wessex Water, said the company was "absolutely devastated" by the incident and will be working with the Health and Safety Executive "to understand what happened and why".
In the picture: The damage to the chemical tank in the Wessex Water sewage treatment plant, in which four people have died
One person said on social media that they heard a loud bang at the time of the explosion. In the picture: fire brigade at the crime scene
Mr Jenkins, who had worked nearby, said he and a colleague heard the explosion and saw people running from the scene.
He told the BBC: “We were in the warehouse, the whole warehouse was shaking and we were literally standing in shock.
“Next we looked out the windows and all we could see were people running.
“We don't know what happened. It was really a bit of a shock. Cross your fingers, no one was hurt and everything is fine. I heard a bang … we didn't know what was going on. & # 39;
One person who worked nearby said, "All of our windows rattled." Another added, "My significant other works in Avonmouth, and their entire building rumbled and shook off."
Another witness they saw "at least ten ambulances" with police and fire services, according to Bristol Live.
Jawad Burhan took a photo with an exploded tank and said there was a "helicopter looking for missing people". The police also blocked a nearby road.
He said, “I heard the noise, I'm working in another warehouse next to the building. After ten minutes I saw the helicopter and the police coming. & # 39;
Emergency services are at the site of a major explosion in a warehouse near the Avonmouth recycling and water treatment plant
Boris Johnson cited politicians in mourning the victims and praised the emergency services.
The Prime Minister tweeted: “It is deeply sad to learn that four people lost their lives in the explosion at the Avonmouth waterworks.
“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. Many thanks to the emergency services who visited the scene. & # 39;
Union leader Sir Keir Starmer wrote: “My thoughts go with all those who tragically lost their lives today in Avonmouth. My heart goes out to her friends and family. Many thanks to our emergency services for all their work. & # 39;
Former Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted that she was "deeply concerned" about the explosion: "My thoughts are with those affected and our courageous emergency services who are working hard to resolve this incident."
Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, said: "This is a serious incident and I think of the workers injured on site today."
He added, "I am grateful to our fire, police and ambulance workers for their quick response."
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees added: “There has been a major explosion at the Wessex Water site on Kings Weston Lane in Avomouth.
& # 39; Thank you @AvonFireRescue @ASPolice and @swasFT for doing their best to help everyone involved. My thoughts go out to everyone affected by this incident. & # 39;
A road leading to the industrial area was closed this afternoon when ambulance vehicles were on site carrying out a rescue operation
The incident took place at the recycling and water treatment plant at Avonmouth in Bristol, South West England
Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was "deeply concerned" about the news of the explosion in a tweet she posted on social media
Chief Inspector Runacres said officers were on site and would likely be there for some time when he urged the public to steer clear
Police have closed the road to the scene – an industrial area on the outskirts of Bristol
After the explosion at 11.20 a.m., crews from five different fire departments were on site
The explosion is said to have taken place in an industrial area on the outskirts of Bristol
Avon and Somerset Police also assured the public that the chemical tank explosion did not pose a threat to the public
Fires from the site of the explosion (pictured on a traffic camera from Highways England) were extinguished this morning at around 11 a.m. in King Weston Lane, according to a fire department spokesman
Crews from six different fire stations were dispatched to the site of the great explosion
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