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Port Sunlight Explosion Declared Crime Scene

27 March 2017 | Updated 01 January 1970

Merseyside Police have taken over from the other emergency services to investigate the explosion that occurred on the  Wirral on Saturday March 25.

Two of the 33 casualties are currently in a critical condition and are being treated at Aintree hospital and the Walton neurological centre.

Wirral Council has begun the process of helping residents and businesses recover from the explosion and has made an urgent appeal for those who left the scene without making contact to let them know where they are, so that they can discuss their property and what support they need.

David Ball, Wirral’s Assistant Director of Environmental Services, who is leading the council’s recovery team, said: "Due to the nature of the emergency, many people left the scene quickly and we need to know who they are and where they are now."

The explosion caused widespread damage and building collapse. The blast site and immediate area remains a crime scene as Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, Wirral Council, the Health and Safety Inspectorate and National Grid jointly investigate the cause of the explosion.


Previous reporting - Saturday evening

Emergency services were called at 9:14pm to reports of a suspected gas explosion - which was heard up to six miles away. (A smell of gas had been reported the previous day.) They arrived to a scene of devastation. Several buildings had collapsed. A total of 18 casualties were taken to hospital by ambulance and a further 15 made their own way to local hospitals.

Firefighters searched all of the affected properties and search dogs from Merseyside and Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service have searched the collapsed buildings and debris. The search remained ongoing as of late Sunday afternoon.

The Police are working with a number of partner agencies including Wirral council to ensure that the area is made safe, roads are reopened wherever possible and local residents are able to return to their homes - many were housed in a temporary refuge centre in the aftermath.

Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Holland said: “This has obviously come as a massive shock to the community of New Ferry and our thoughts go out to those people who were injured during the explosion and the people who continue to be affected by it.

“Merseyside Police is committed to establishing what caused the explosion and are working closely with our partners at National Grid and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service as part of the investigation.

A drone from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service has been used to survey the scene.


National Grid

National Grid emergency gas engineers were called to the scene (referred to as Port Sunlight) and remained through until Sunday after completing the isolation of the gas network in the area of the damaged buildings. They were only allowed a limited time and access to the damage buildings as they have been declared a crime scene.

The engineers found no faults in the local gas pipe network in the area.

The engineers will return this morning (Monday 27) to assist the police with their investigation.

The gas supply to up to 30 properties has been isolated as a safety precaution because of the damage to these properties.

The buildings destroyed include a dance studio for children, which was unoccupied at the time.

The fire service has warned that the after effects of the explosion will last for some time and some people will be unable to return to their homes.

Picture: The explosion at Port Sunlight

Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 27 March 2017


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