THE Vicar of St Mary’s, Bosley, near Macclesfield, has spoken of a community “locked in grief” after an explosion and fire at the Wood Flour Mills, Bosley, last Friday. Temperatures of 1000 degrees centigrade caused the building to collapse.
Thirty-nine people were injured, and four people — Dorothy Bailey, aged 62; William Barks, 51; Jason Shingler, 38; and Derek Moore, 62 — were unaccounted for. Three unidentified bodies have now been recovered from the site by rescue workers.
The Vicar, the Revd Dr John Harries, said: “Bosley is distressed. The people are locked in limbo, particularly the families of the missing, who are unable to get down to the site, or leave a mark of their grief in any way.”
Three of the casualties are still in hospital in a stable condition. Cheshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive are to take over the scene from the fire service to establish what happened.
Dr Harries said: “We are looking to set up at community hub in the local school so people can reflect, or light a candle. The church is open all day, and people have come in for quiet reflection, which has been helpful.
“Bosley is a very private community. The time for counselling will come when more is known of what happened. We have volunteer grief counsellors who are here if and when people are ready to gently talk things through.”
Dr Harries, who has been Vicar at St Mary’s for just two months, said that he was working closely with the Revd Pamela Butler, of Bosley Methodist Chapel, which is close to where the blast happened.
“Pamela is much more centrally based with more access to the people,” he said. “This has been a lot for me to take on. I am completely out of my depth, but God is very gracious. Out of our depth, I think, is how everyone is feeling at this time.”
Preaching at a service at St Mary’s on Sunday morning, Dr Harries said that the church would continue to pray for those at the bedsides of loved ones in hospital, or waiting for news. A service is to be held at 9 a.m. today to mark exactly one week since the devastation.
The Archdeacon of Macclesfield, the Ven. Ian Bishop, said in a statement that the rural community continues to be in a “state of shock” after the explosion. “The small church community have immediately rallied to provide pastoral support to those affected, and practical support to the emergency teams working to try to find the people reported as still missing.”
The Bishop of Stockport, the Rt Revd Libby Lane, said: “We will continue to pray and offer practical and spiritual support for all those involved and affected. We will be there not only last week and this week . . . but every day into the future, fulfilling the Church of England’s commitment to be a Christian presence in every community.
“We weep with those who mourn, stand alongside those who wait, and ask questions with those who struggle to make sense of what has happened.”