Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to the newest version of your browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of Construction News, please enable cookies in your browser.

Welcome to the Construction News site. As we have relaunched, you will have to sign in once now and agree for us to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Didcot Power Station collapse: search for three missing people continues after one confirmed fatality

  • One dead, three missing, five injured
  • Major search continues for missing people
  • Coleman & Co demolition contractor; casualties from demolition team
  • Building collapsed in pre-demolition phase – no explosion
  • Fire service confirms no explosives present on site
  • At least 47 treated on site for dust inhalation

Update: Rescue teams have warned it is “highly unlikely” that three missing people will be found alive, following the building collapse at Didcot A Power Station.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service chief fire officer David Etheridge told journalists that rescue teams had “not picked up signs of life” but were continuing with efforts to locate the missing people.

The rescue teams have attempted to contact the missing people through their work radios but attempts have been unsuccessful.

Mr Etheridge said families were distraught, adding that it was one of the most difficult technical operations he had been involved with in 30 years.

Around 100 people were on the site overnight working to locate the missing people. However, the crews’ efforts have been hampered as the rest of the building is in danger of collapsing.

Rescue teams are using sniffer dogs, thermal imaging cameras, drones and liaising with multiple emergency service teams, including the army, to search the site.

The building was being prepped for demolition at the time of the incident. Rescue teams are working on the principle that the remainder of the building will collapse.

Mr Etheridge warned that the rescue attempt could take weeks.

Didcot Power Station collapse_PA-25616835

Didcot Power Station collapse_PA-25616835

Survivors have been giving statements and are being treated as witnesses, as rescue teams try to ascertain where people were located when the collapse occurred.

The standing structure is being surveyed by drones, with information relayed to structural engineers and demolition experts.

Emergency services who worked on the Bosley Mill explosion and fire have been offering assistance to Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and police teams.

The major search operation for the missing people got under way yesterday, when one person was confirmed dead after the building collapsed. 

A further five demolition workers are being treated in hospital. The five injured workers were taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. Four are in a stable and non-life threatening condition, while one man is in a serious but not life-threatening condition, according to Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

CREDIT Construction News_Didcot Power Station A collpaed building Feb 16

CREDIT Construction News_Didcot Power Station A collpaed building Feb 16

Source: Construction News

Coleman & Company is main contractor for the demolition of the buildings at Didcot A. The casualties were said by the fire service to have been members of the demolition team.

The building that collapsed was the power station’s boiler house, measuring 100 m long and 10 storeys high. The adjoining tank and bunker bay and turbine hall buildings had already been demolished.

The structure was due to be demolished “in the coming weeks”, according to Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service deputy chief fire officer Nathan Travis.

The contractor tweeted saying any concerned relatives of Coleman & Company employees should contact Joanne Barton, group HR Manager on 07725 258271 or 0121 325 2424.

The building was in the pre-demolition phase and was being prepped for explosive charges to be installed, with no explosives in the building when it collapsed, the deputy fire chief said. 

The search for the three missing workers continued through the night. Mr Travis said the operation could extend to several days with a rubble pile at the site around 20-30 ft deep. He said the structure had been steel and concrete. The remaining structure is “not stable at the moment”.

He said yesterday: “The search will be a considerable undertaking due to the instability of the site. We expect the search will continue through the night and possibly into the coming days.

“There is Specialist Rescue and Command Support Units, and Urban Search and Rescue Units from Buckinghamshire at the scene, including search dogs. The fire service is being supported by South Central Ambulance Service and Thames Valley Police.”

This morning, John Radcliffe hospital confirmed that all five injured men were still being treated. Four are in a stable and non life-threatening condition, while one man is in a serious but non life-threatening condition.

At least 47 people were treated for dust inhalation on site before being discharged.

Mr Travis added that dust from the collapse covered a “considerable area” but that there “were no hazardous materials within the building”.

Emergency services were called to the scene in Oxfordshire at 4pm and declared a “major incident”.

The Health and Safety Executive has been informed and will conduct an investigation with the support of Thames Valley Police.

Specialist contractor Coleman & Company issued a statement on Tuesday evening. It said: ”We can confirm that shortly after 4pm this afternoon part of the Boiler House at the former Didcot A Power Station site in Oxfordshire collapsed.

”It is with great sadness that we understand that there has been one fatality, five people have been taken to hospital and three people are currently missing and unaccounted for. Our thoughts are with the families of all those involved in this tragedy.

“We are working with the emergency services who are currently on site to locate those missing and understand the cause of this collapse.”

In a statement, RWE nPower said: “There has been an incident at our former Didcot A Power Station site in Oxfordshire. The site is currently being demolished.

“We are working with our contractors Coleman & Company to establish the facts.”

Local residents initially reported hearing an explosion and have tweeted pictures of dust rising and parts of a building that was due to be demolished having collapsed.

One local resident told the BBC: “There was loads of dust and smoke and half the building’s missing. Half of it has come down and the rest of it is hanging by a thread.”

The site was hit by a fire in 2014 when a blaze broke out in one of the two cooling tower modules, which supplies cooling water to one of the two generating units at Didcot B.

Didcot A Power Station, a coal and gas-fired station, was decommissioned in March 2013. 

RWE nPower, the owners of the power station, decided to demolish the structures on site, selling off the cleared land for redevelopment. The client appointed demolition specialist Coleman & Company as main contractor for the project following a competitive tender process.

Coleman & Company has split the huge 60 ha site into seven zones, each containing a different package of demolition works.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.