16-year-old boy ‘Luke Wheaton’ among four victims of Avonmouth blast which also killed men aged 57, 63 and 64 respectively.
Police today named the four workers who perished in the Bristol sewage plant explosion, including a 16-year-old boy – after the devastated wife of one of the victims revealed her son had been due to work on the same spot.
Avon and Somerset Police said that Luke Wheaton, 16, Michael James, 64, Brian Vickery, 63, and Raymond White, 57, were all killed by a blast thought to have been caused by an exploding chemical tank.
It is understood that Mr James was a contractor working at the site, while Mr Vickery and Mr White were employees of Wessex Water and Luke, a former pupil of Bradley Stoke Community School, was an apprentice.
In a statement, the force added that specially trained officers are supporting the victims’ families, while investigators will speak to the person who survived the blast and is now recovering from their injuries at home.
Emergency services were called to reports of a large explosion involving one of the chemical tanks at the site at about 11.20am. The blast happened in a silo that held treated biosolids.
Avon and Somerset Police, which declared a major incident, said a cordon at the site was likely to remain in place ‘over the coming days’ as an investigation is carried out. This is being supported by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and a team of chemical and mechanical experts, the force said.
It came as other colleagues of the workers who died at Wessex Water Services Ltd in Avonmouth yesterday were said to be in a ‘state of shock’ after one was blown 500ft into a lake by the force of the blast.
Bradley Stoke Community School wrote on Facebook: ‘We were shocked and saddened to hear of the tragic passing of our former student Luke Wheaton yesterday in the Avonmouth tragedy. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.’
Supt Simon Brickwood said: ‘I’d like to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the families of those involved in yesterday’s tragic incident. An investigation has been launched into the causes of the explosion, with the support of partner agencies and the Health and Safety Executive.
‘This is likely to be ongoing for some time and we will be keeping the victims’ families informed throughout. We appreciate the impact this incident has had on the local community and we thank those affected for their patience while our investigative work is carried out.
‘The local neighbourhood policing team is available to address any concerns members of the public may have. I’d like to pay tribute to those involved in the emergency response, who have been at the scene throughout the night under very difficult and challenging circumstances.’
Giles Hyder, HSE’s head of operations in the South West said: ‘We send our deepest condolences to the families of those who tragically died. It is important a joint investigation is carried out. We will provide specialist support to what is likely to be a complex investigation under the command of the police.’
Wessex Water CEO Colin Skellett said: ‘We are all absolutely devastated by what has happened. Our hearts go out to the family, friends and colleagues of those who lost their lives during the tragic event on Thursday.