Four people remain unaccounted for after a major fire and series of large explosions at a wood treatment works in Bosley, on the edge of the Peak District.
Emergency services were called to Wood Flour Mills, on Tunstall Road, Bosley, near Macclesfield, at around 9.12am this morning (Friday).
Four people, three men and one woman, are still unaccounted for after a four-storey building collapsed amid three explosions at the site. A search for the missing is due to begin at first light on Saturday.
Four people have been taken to hospital and one is in a serious condition.
A spokesperson for North West Ambulance Service said: “Two patients have been taken to Royal Stoke University Hospital, one patient has been taken to Whiston Hospital and one patient has been taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham by air ambulance.”
Another 35 people were assessed at the scene, four of which were treated for breathing difficulties.
Twenty three fire engines, including 12 from Cheshire, nine from Greater Manchester, one from Derbyshire and one from Staffordshire, alongside two aerial appliances, the command and control unit, high volume pump, heavy rescue unit and the environmental protection unit have been involved in the incident.
Residents living in the Peak District as far away as Wildboarclough were initially urged to remain indoors and close windows and doors due to the smoke cloud drifting away from the site.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “There remains a large multi-agency team at the scene. It looks likely that our fire crews will need to remain there over the weekend.
“Firefighters are working tirelessly to ensure that search and rescue teams can safely access the site.
A police cordon remains in place around the scene.
Cheshire East Council Leader Michael Jones said everything was being done to support those affected by the incident.
“This is a small community with the factory at its heart. We are all devastated by what has happened here today,” he said.
“There are families whose homes have been damaged and they have had to be relocated to emergency accommodation.
“We also have 50 local people whose jobs have been lost as a result of the destruction of this factory.
“We are also offering support to those families whose loved ones remain missing and to those people who are recovering from their injuries.”
Cheshire East Council has set up an emergency hotline for anyone with queries, concerns or in need of help. The number is 0300 1235034.