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Avonmouth explosion victims named by police – including teen killed in blast

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The four people who died in an explosion at a waste water treatment works near Bristol on Thursday have been named by Avon & Somerset Police.

Four workers were killed and a fifth injured following a blast at a Wessex Water treatment plant in Avonmouth, near Bristol, just at around 11.20am on Thursday, December 4.

Emergency services were called following reports of a large explosion involving one of the chemical tanks at the site, off Kings Weston Lane.

The victims believed to have died have been named as Michael James, 64, Brian Vickery, 63, Raymond White, 57, and Luke Wheaton, 16.

Specially trained officers are supporting the families of the individuals who lost their lives in the incident. Formal identification is yet to take place and post mortem examinations are underway.

Police have said a cordon at the site is likely to remain in place over the coming days while police conduct an investigation into the cause of the incident, with the support of the Health and Safety Executive and a team of chemical and mechanical experts.

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.”

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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 Chief Executive 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.

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“I know from the thoughts and comments I have received from so many, that this has affected the whole Wessex Water family.

“I know Avonmouth, I worked there for many years, and I know the people, some of whom have lost their lives during this terrible incident.”

An eyewitness told the BBC they heard a "very loud explosion" that "shook buildings".

Another said they saw "around 10 ambulances driving to the scene".

Jawad Burhan told the PA news agency: "I heard the sound, I'm working beside the building in another warehouse.

“After ten minutes I saw the helicopter coming and the police."

Following the tragic incident, Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: "Deeply saddened to learn that four people have lost their lives in the water works explosion in Avonmouth. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families.

"Thank you to the emergency services who attended the scene."

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