British authorities declared a “major incident” has taken place and at least one person has been killed, following reports of a large explosion at the Didcot Power Station in South Oxfordshire, England.
A building at the power plant partially collapsed, and witnesses described a giant cloud of dust and smoke. “It looked like the world had ended,” a witness, Andy Black, told SkyNews. “There was just dust everywhere. You couldn’t see a thing.”
The building that collapsed had been scheduled for demolition, and local journalists have reported that charges may have been planted just last week.
In addition to the one confirmed fatality, authorities have reported several other casualties. Six ambulances and two aerial ambulances had been dispatched to the scene, and were treating the incident as a “hazardous area,” according to SkyNews. An unconfirmed number of injured people were taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital.
The Didcot Power Stations consist of a coal and gas-fired plant (Didcot A), which stopped producing power in 2013, and a natural-gas power plant (Didcot B), which is still in use. The building collapse Tuesday occurred at the disused Didcot A, which had been scheduled to be demolished. Three cooling towers at Didcot A had been demolished in controlled explosions last summer; three more were on track to be demolished.
According to local reporters, there were indications that the company contracted to perform the demolition, Coleman and Company, was on the site as recently as last week, with one demolition contractor for the company posting on social media that they were gearing up for “#Explosive #demolition on an #industrial scale” and “getting prepped for the #blowdown.” As of Tuesday evening local time, they had not yet released a statement.
It was not clear if the building collapsed because its structural integrity was weak, or if the demolition charges had actually caused an explosion, a local MP told SkyNews.
— Oxfordshire Guardian (@OxfordGuardian) February 23, 2016
Big collapse just happened at Didcot Power Station. Loads of dust. Not sure if it was planned #didcot
— Thames Cryogenics (@ThamesCryo) February 23, 2016
All kicking off at Didcot powerstation, explosion, loads of dust, loads of emergency vehicles. Hope everyone is ok. #didcot
— Adrian Redhead (@AdyDOT) February 23, 2016
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) February 23, 2016
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