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Prayers for Bosley mill blast victims

Published 24/07/2015

The scene of the explosion and fire in Bosley, Cheshire
The scene of the explosion and fire in Bosley, Cheshire

Prayers have been said at a moving church service in the village of Bosley seven days on from a huge explosion at the local mill left four people dead.

Reverend John Harries, vicar of St Mary the Virgin Church in the village, said the local community had been "ripped apart" by the disaster last Friday morning.

Three bodies have been recovered in the search of the wreckage at the Wood Treatment Limited plant in Cheshire.

Derek Moore, 62, has been identified as one of the victims.

Formal identification of the other two bodies is yet to take place but they are thought to be those of employees William Barks, 51, and Dorothy Bailey, 62.

Their colleague Jason Shingler, 38, is unaccounted for following last Friday's huge blast and 1,000C inferno, described as the "worst incident of its kind" in a decade.

Candles were lit as more than 100 villagers, some of them relatives of those killed, came together and were asked to think of those who lost their lives and were injured.

Only around 400 people live in the village, with everyone knowing someone affected by the tragedy.

The Rev Pam Butler, Methodist minister for Bosley, offered prayers for all those affected, "to settle their racing thoughts and help them to know they will not stand alone in grief".

After the closing hymn, Abide with Me, members of the congregation stood outside the church, some in tears, being hugged by well-wishers.

Mr Harries said: "The aim of today was to help people try and process everything that has happened over the last week. It is like there is a wound and this wound has been continually opened as the revelations come out of one body after the next.

"And people are raw with emotion, and I want us to be able to come together as a community and to support one another as we have been doing and lift each other up in prayer and just try and not relive, but think back to how our lives were last week, when in a matter of moments everything changed.

"It's ripped the community apart. This is really painful to get through, it's harrowing. But at the same time I can see our community coming closer together than it ever has done before and I have every confidence we will emerge stronger and even closer, if that is possible.

"But at the moment we are hurting tremendously.

"I was with the families yesterday as they went down to see the devastation down there and nothing can prepare you for that. It is very very upsetting. Deeply upsetting."

Yesterday, relatives of the victims laid flowers at the scene of the wreckage.

Kelvin Barks, Mr Barks's brother, was among those who attended. He later told reporters of his shock at the "magnitude" of the explosion.

He said: "It's shocking to see the magnitude of what has gone on there.

"I was just numb. You just could not believe... the fires are still burning and they have constantly got hoses out. It's colossal down there."

A joint investigation is under way involving police, fire and the HSE to establish the cause of the incident.

The HSE served Wood Treatment Ltd with improvement notices two years ago in which it warned of a risk of an explosion or fire, although the company complied with the notice.

Emergency crews are still painstakingly picking through tonnes of metal, concrete and brickwork at the site, while fire crews were still continuously pumping water in to large containers of wood flour in a bid to reduce the temperatures and keep fires under control.

Rescuers are confident they know the location of Mr Shingler and will recover his body from the wreckage soon.

They are still hampered by fighting pockets of fire hidden in the vast piles of twisted metal, a week on from the disaster.

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