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Two people confirmed dead in explosion at former SSI steelworks

Watch: latest video report by Jonny Blair

Two people have been confirmed dead after an explosion at the former SSI steel works on Teesside.

It is being reported that the workers were operating a cherry picker close to the blast, which was described as a "massive fireball".

In a statement, Detective Superintendent Tariq Ali at Cleveland Police, 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."

Emergency services are still dealing with a "major incident" after a series of explosions at the former coke ovens at the yesterday afternoon.

Nearly businesses were evacuated and a 250m cordon was established.

The site is part of the South Tees Development Corporation area, which includes the former SSI steelworks.

It is now owned by the South Tees Development Corporation, which is chaired by the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Fire Brigade said there was no danger to the public.

  • Where was the blast?
  • 24 hours after the first reported explosion, a fire is still burning:
  • Ben Houchen, the Tees Valley Mayor 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.

– Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor
Credit: NCJ Media

Cleveland Police officers and emergency services remain on the scene in South Bank.

The steelworks closed in 2015, with the loss of 2,200 jobs

  • Redcar MP Anna Turley described the news as "absolutely devastating."

All our thoughts and those of the whole community will be with the two workers who have been killed on the site. No one should ever go to work and not come home. It is absolutely horrendous and my heart goes out to them and their families.

This should never have happened. There will, of course, now be a full investigation by the police and the relevant authorities. They must leave no stone unturned to find out how on this could have happened. I will be following this very close. There must be total accountability and a complete review of wha happened on this site.

My thanks to the emergency services who, as ever, have been exceptional.

– Anna Turley MP
  • Eye witness John Coates describes hearing a sound like something falling from a great height.
  • On Monday, a Cleveland Police spokesperson said:

Cleveland Police officers and emergency services colleagues remain on scene at the former SSI site in South Bank, which was evacuated following a report of a fire at around 2.15pm today.

The fire is ongoing, however, it is contained and officers and Fire Brigade colleagues will remain on the scene overnight to continually monitor the situation.

The cordon put in place has been extended to 250 metres. There are no residential addresses in the cordoned area and there is no danger to members of the public.

This has been declared a major incident and there is a multiagency collaborative response to this, with the situation being monitored continually.

– Cleveland Police

Our cameras captured a second explosion on the site on Monday afternoon:

Everyone in the whole community will be devastated by this tragedy. Our deepest sympathies and thoughts are with the families and friends. Our gratitude goes to the emergency services.

– Councillor Mary Lanigan, Leader of Redcar & Cleveland Borough Counci

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said:

We are aware of an incident that has occurred at the former steelworks site and are monitoring the situation closely.

Engineers on site are working closely with the emergency services who are at the scene and working with the Health and Safety Executive.

– Spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy