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Fire crews work to make buildings safe after explosion

The aftermath of the explosion seen from above Photo:

More than forty personnel from the emergency services and disaster relief teams are on site today - at the scene of an explosion at Osney Mead in Oxford which caused a block of flats to collapse on Tuesday.

Fire crews are working to make the remaining structures, neighbouring homes and buildings safe so that they can continue to search the rubble to confirm if anybody is beneath the debris.

The people living in nineteen neighbouring properties have been unable to return home because of the threat of unstable adjoining buildings coming down. Structural engineers are assessing the damage, and will recommend further action.

The fire service says that delicate work will be required, and that once safety measures have been implemented a police dog will search the debris first, and then firefighters will start the painstaking work of removing the rubble. After that detectives, fire investigators and crime scene investigators will look into what caused the explosion.

The homes are adjacent to the water

The workers from various agencies are expected to remain at the scene for much of the day. They are from organisations including Oxfordshire's Fire & Rescue Service, Thames Valley Police, South Central Ambulance Service’s Hazardous Area Response Team, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council’s Emergency Planning Unit and A2Dominion Housing.

“As we said earlier in the week the sequence of events has to be to make the buildings safe first before the removal of rubble begins, so as to ensure the safety of personnel.

Due to the instability of adjoining buildings we have some particular work to do today to tackle that issue. We are still looking forward to being able to start removing rubble but cannot yet put a timeframe on this. Fire and police investigators will be working alongside to determine the cause of the explosion.”

– Incident Commander Mike Adcock, Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service
Adjoining and neighbouring buildings have been left with lasting damage

The county council's emergency planning team has been working with the social housing firm, A2Dominion, to provide alternative accommodation for displaced residents who are not staying with friends or family members.

“At this stage, 19 households are still unable to return to Gibbs Crescent. We have provided emergency accommodation and transport for all those that need it, whilst a small number of residents have made their own arrangements.

“Yesterday, we delivered food packages, emergency cash, toiletries and clothing to all of the residents we could reach who are staying in emergency accommodation.

“Our team will be contacting every resident again today, both those in emergency accommodation and those at Gibbs Crescent, to help with practical day-to-day requirements during this difficult time.

“Furthermore, we are continuing to work on confirming when our displaced residents will be able to return to their homes and making long-term alternative arrangements where required.

“We would like to thank all those who have been helping us to provide this support, including the emergency services, local authorities and various charities.

“We continue to urge any of our residents who require any additional support to contact us.”

– David Lingeman, A2Dominion

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