Death toll from factory blast rises to seven

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The Associated Press

GLASGOW, Scotland -- Rescue teams searched Wednesday for two people still missing after a Glasgow factory exploded, killing seven and injuring 44.

Rescuers had not heard any voices or tapping from beneath the wreckage of the Stockline Plastics factory nearly 18 hours after an explosion ripped through the building, police said.

"We are cautiously optimistic. We are working flat out," said Strathclyde police chief superintendent David Christie.

Sixteen of the injured were in serious condition, Christie said.

Rescuers, using thermal-imaging cameras and heat-seeking equipment, pulled seven people out alive before nightfall Tuesday.

One young woman was found in "distressing circumstances" after 6 1/2 hours of searching but was expected to make a full recovery, said Brian Sweeney, firemaster of the Strathclyde Fire Service.

No more survivors were pulled out overnight, Sweeney said.

The fire service called for search and rescue specialists from the rest of Britain to help. Sweeney said he believed the operation would continue for several days.

Christie said there was "absolutely no" indication the blast was terrorism-related.

Julie Ryan, a spokeswoman for the International Rescue Corps charity, said the search for survivors was "very laborious."

"We are moving the debris bit by bit, shoring up parts of the building that may potentially collapse," she told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. "The last thing we want to do is to injure or trap any of our rescue workers."

Rescuers were using a Trapped Person Locator, which probes the air for carbon dioxide exhaled by unconscious victims in the rubble, she said.

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