Two workers have been killed after a major explosion at a former British Steel site in South Bank, Teesside.
The incident occurred on Thursday afternoon, when workers were operating a cherry picker close to the blast, according to local news reports.
Emergency services were called to the former steelworks site in Redcar after reports of a fire, and the site was evacuated on Thursday evening.
In a statement earlier today, Cleveland Police detective superintendent Tariq Ali said: “We can now confirm that there have sadly been two fatalities as a result of an incident at the former SSI site in South Bank yesterday.
“The families of those two men have been informed and our thoughts remain with them at this very difficult time.”
Demolition company John F Hunt was working on the site, which closed in 2015.
A spokesman from the firm said: “We sincerely regret to confirm that a serious incident occurred at our SSI site in Teesside yesterday.
“Tragically this has resulted in two fatalities and we are currently engaging with the HSE, Client and Emergency services to thoroughly investigate and ascertain the circumstances surrounding this heart-rending event.
“Our heartfelt thoughts at this time are with the family, friends and colleagues of the two men and we would like to express how deeply sorry we are for their loss and the anguish they will be experiencing.”
A road closure has been put in place while emergency services continue to manage the aftermath of the incident.
A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “This has been declared a major incident and there is a multi-agency collaborative response to this, with the situation being monitored continually.”
Fire brigade and police officers remained at the scene overnight as the fire was ongoing.
In a statement Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Yesterday was a terrible and tragic day and all of our thoughts go out to the family, friends and colleagues of the two workers who were involved in the accident on site.
“It is impossible to imagine the pain and distress which this news will have brought the loved ones of those involved. All of the staff who work at the South Tees Development Corporation site are deeply shocked and sorry for this loss.
“All works on site have been suspended while investigations continue. The team is working with the emergency services and the Health and Safety Executive who will continue to have an ongoing presence on site.
“Let me be clear, we will examine every single detail of the work that was being conducted; we will make sure we do everything to understand exactly what happened and why.”
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