‘24 hour nightmare’: Bereaved family battling Didcot demolition while bodies remain inside

Part of a collapsed building is illuminated by the emergency services as they work at the decommissioned Didcot A power station in central England © Peter Nicholls
A family bereaved by the Didcot power station collapse has expressed outrage over plans to demolish the crumbling structure while the body of their loved one is trapped inside.

Ken Cresswell was one of four men to die in the disaster on February 23, the cause of which is still being investigated. Three of the bodies have yet to be recovered from the site.

The 57-year-old had been working at the Oxfordshire coal and oil plant, which was undergoing demolition by contractor Coleman & Company, when half of the building suddenly caved in. 

Cresswell’s son-in-law Steve Hall told BBC Radio Oxford the family was “sick” to their stomachs after hearing about plans to use explosives to tear down the building with three bodies still under rubble. 

“How can anyone with a heart or a soul even consider an idea like that,” Hall said.

While former plant operators RWE Npower say the building is too dangerous to keep upright, Hall said demolition engineers from Coleman & Company believe it to be stable.

“We’d like him [Ken Cresswell] out in one piece, not hundreds of pieces,” he added.

He said his family is living a “24-hour nightmare” and warned that vital evidence could be destroyed if RWE Npower are allowed to “blast.”

The remains of workers John Shaw, 61, and 34-year-old Christopher Huxtable are also thought to remain inside the twisted wreckage of the partially demolished Didcot plant.

The disaster also claimed the life of 53-year-old Michael Collings.

“We will not let them blast that remaining structure whilst my dad, John and Chris are under there,” Ken Cresswell’s daughter posted on Facebook.

“They are humans. They have families, grandkids, kids and wives, they have gone through enough already, without being buried further. Enough is enough. Over my dead body will that building be floored before our men are brought home, no way.”

More than 3,000 people have signed a petition to stop the rest of the building from being torn down by explosives with the men’s bodies inside.

Part of a collapsed building is illuminated by the emergency services as they work at the decommissioned Didcot A power station in central England, February 23, 2016. © Peter Nicholls

“Three hard working men have been trapped at Didcot after a collapse… their families are heartbroken and they face further heartbreak because if the men are not found soon they are going to blast,” the Change.org petition reads.

“We are not about to let his happen as the men deserve dignity and the families need all the help they can get to prevent this.”

Last week, RWE Npower spokesperson Kelly Nye said a controlled explosive demolition was the “quickest and safest way” to bring down the building.

“We also understand that any potential work involving further explosive demolition on site causes distress for the families,” Nye was quoted in the Oxford Times.

“We are deeply aware that the ongoing recovery to find the missing men must be extremely painful for all the families.”

The Didcot A Power Station was closed down in 2013 with plans to completely demolish the site. The nearby gas-burning Didcot B station is still in operation.