Avonmouth explosion: Four people killed in waste water treatment blast

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·4-min read

Watch: Multiple casualties after waste water works explosion

Four people have died after a “large explosion” at a waste water treatment centre near Bristol.

Police confirmed that three Wessex Water employees and a contractor died after the blast, while another person was injured.

It is thought the blast involved a chemical tank at Wessex Water’s recycling centre in Avonmouth.

Avon Fire and Rescue Service said police and paramedics joined its firefighters at the scene as part of the major incident, after being called out at 11.22am on Thursday.

Chief Inspector Mark Runacres confirmed the deaths at a news conference in the afternoon, while Boris Johnson said “our hearts go out” to the victims.

The scene in Avomouth, Bristol, as fire crews, police and paramedics are responding to a large explosion at a warehouse where there have been multiple casualties.
The warehouse where emergency services responded to reports of a blast. (PA)
The scene in Avomouth, Bristol, as fire crews, police and paramedics are responding to a large explosion at a warehouse where there have been multiple casualties.
Emergency services at the scene of the incident. (PA)

“The fire service led the rescue operation but sadly, despite the best efforts of all those involved, we can confirm there have been four fatalities,” Ch Ins Runacres said.

“This includes three employees of Wessex Water and one contractor.

“Specially trained officers have this afternoon made contact with each of the families of those individuals and informed them of the sad news.

The large explosion came from a sewage treatment works near Avonmouth. (PA Graphics)
The large explosion came from a sewage treatment works near Avonmouth. (PA Graphics)

“This is a tragic incident and our thoughts and sympathies go out to them.”

He added: “A fifth person was also injured but their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

“A thorough investigation will be carried out into what happened today, involving a number of agencies and the Health and Safety executive in due course, and we will not be speculating on the cause of the explosion while such work is being undertaken.

“I can confirm though that this is not being treated as a terror-related incident.”

Avon and Somerset Police tweeted that it believes there are “no ongoing public safety concerns” but urged people to avoid the area while emergency services work at the scene.

Ch Insp Runacres said earlier: “Officers remain at the scene and are likely to be for some time as we work together with other agencies in dealing with this major incident.

“A cordon has been set up and we’d advise members of the public to avoid the area at this time, where possible, to allow the emergency services to carry out their work.

“Police inquiries into exactly what happened are at a very early stage and are continuing.”

Luke Gazzard, from Avon Fire and Rescue Service, said the incident was “very challenging”.

“Our initial crews attended within five minutes and in total we had six fire engines, a turntable ladder, urban search and rescue teams and two search and rescue dogs on scene.

“During the incident we located four casualties who unfortunately were confirmed as deceased.”

Jawad Burhan, who was working in a warehouse nearby, said: “I heard the sound... after 10 minutes I saw the helicopter coming and the police.”

The prime minister tweeted after the four deaths were confirmed.

Labour MP for Bristol North West Darren Jones thanked emergency services and said it was the second “serious incident” in Avonmouth recently.

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said his thoughts are with all affected by the blast.

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