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Wood flour mill explosions: body 'probably' identified as missing worker

A body recovered from the blast wreckage at a wood flour mill has been identified as "probably" one of four missing workers.

The remains of two people have so far been traced following an explosion and inferno last Friday which ripped apart the four-storey building of Wood Treatment Limited in the village of Bosley, Cheshire.

Fire and rescue teams have been working non-stop to find William Barks, 51, Dorothy Bailey, 62, Jason Shingler, 38, and Derek Moore, 62.

Today, Cheshire Police said a post-mortem examination had taken place on the first body recovered from the scene on Sunday night, which is thought to be that of father-of-one Mr Barks, from Leek, Staffordshire.

A police spokesman said: "Formal identification has not been made but, based on the information available to the coroner, indications are that it is probably that of William Barks, aged 51. However, further forensic tests are required to corroborate the identification.

"Mr Barks' family have been fully updated on this development and the family liaison officers of all those affected continue to work with them to offer them all the advice and support they need during what is a very difficult time.

"The joint investigation is continuing to establish the cause of the incident."

In a statement issued yesterday, Mr Barks's family said he had been married for 31 "happy" years to Debbie and was "a loving father to Liam".

It added: "William enjoys building and restoring motorbikes and is a loving family man who lives a simple and happy life."

Formal identification of the second body recovered yesterday has also yet to take place.

Meanwhile, the search operation is set to be temporarily suspended later today for the demolition of three silos at the scene.

In a statement, Cheshire Police said: "The removal of the silos will be carried out in a controlled environment but the procedure is expected to generate a significant amount of dust and noise. It is essential that the removal of the silos takes place to allow the emergency services to continue with the search and recovery process.

"During the removal process the search and rescue operation at the site will be paused and for health and safety reasons those working at the site will be moved to another location.

"Residents and businesses in the local area are advised not to be alarmed by the noise and dust from the site. However we recommend that all doors and windows are closed whilst the procedure is undertaken."

Kelvin Barks told ITV News that his brother had spoken of "a disaster waiting to happen" at the mill.

He said: "It's taken his life before he had the chance to get out. He had bills to pay. He wanted to get out. He'd been trying to get out, to get another job. I think his age worked against him.

"His wife and son are distraught by what's gone on. We feel as a family that it's got to be every last stone (that) has got to be unturned and find out what's gone on because in my eyes if this place was deemed safe by Cheshire Council two weeks ago I don't know what's going on. Me going down there, in May, you would not have passed it."

Paying tribute, he added: "He was very much my hero. He inspired me to do well in life. He was an unbelievable guy. So knowledgeable. He could make anything. He could turn a pig's ear into a silk purse in that respect. He was very well respected by everybody."


From Belfast Telegraph