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P
Pa
September 21, 2019

Two die in blast at formercoking plant in Teesside

World

P
Pa
September 21, 2019

TEESSIDE: Two workers who died in an explosion at a former coking plant for a huge steelworks were on a cherry-picker at the time, it has emerged.

Flames could still be seen at times at the SSI site in South Bank, Teesside, some three miles from the old Redcar blast furnace which closed nearly four years ago. Fire crews attended the SSI site in South Bank, Redcar, at around 2.15pm on Thursday after a blaze broke out on the premises.

On Friday morning, Cleveland Police confirmed two men had died in the incident. The blast appeared to have engulfed the two workers who were on a blue cherry-picker at the time, working at a height. It looked to have happened as they worked on large pipes near a gas holder.

On Friday morning, police widened a cordon around the site after flames were seen coming from the blast area. In a statement, 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.”

Earlier on Thursday, emergency services had evacuated the site, part of the South Tees Development Corporation area, and declared the fire a “major incident”. Police said the Health and Safety Executive had been informed of the fire.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and Councillor Mary Lanigan, leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council expressed deepest sympathies and thoughts with the families and friends. SSI purchased the site in February 2011 but went into liquidation in October 2015. The steelworks stopped production after 98 years later that month when it was announced there was no realistic prospect of prospective buyers taking it off the Thai owners.

Earlier this year, a deal was agreed to transfer half the land capable of development on the former steelworks to the South Tees Development Corporation, an enterprise promoting economic development in the Tees Valley.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “I am very sad to learn of the deaths of two workers on the former SSI site, my thoughts are with their families and friends. South Tees Site Company are working closely with the Health and Safety Executive and the emergency services to investigate what happened, and to provide support to those affected.”

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