Terrorist link suspected in gasometer explosion: Attack bears hallmarks of the IRA. Malcolm Pithers reports
Thursday 10 June 1993
Northumbria police were reluctant to blame the IRA as no remains of either a bomb or an incendiary device had been found. But they did say there were similarities with other terrorist attacks around the country.
The blast, which had all the hallmarks of an IRA operation, follows two terrorist attacks on Tyneside over the past 13 months. No warning was given.
MI5 liaison officers and members of the anti-terrorist squad travelled to the North-east yesterday, and Army bomb disposal teams were called in.
The explosion, shortly before midnight on Tuesday, destroyed a British Gas tank, causing a massive fireball. The blast was heard over five miles away, but caused no injuries.
Pensioners living near by in old people's bungalows were taken to a local community centre. About 400 people spent the night away from their homes and it was not until dawn yesterday that it was declared safe for them to return to their houses.
Forensic scientists have begun searching the remains of the tank, which held 2 million cubic feet of gas. They appear to have established that the explosion was not an accident.
Police reluctance to lay direct and public blame on terrorists for the explosion seemed to be due in part to the lack of physical evidence. Detective Superintendent Barry Stewart, who is in charge of the investigation, said he had certainly not ruled out 'terrorist involvement'. He said: 'I believe it is a crime at the moment and I am treating it as such.'
He went further in saying that there had been 'great similarities' between the blast and others elsewhere, but he pointed out that there were 'unusual circumstances'. One possibility was that the blast could have been caused by some other device 'such as a gun'.
In February this year, the IRA claimed responsibility for bombing a gasometer in Warrington, Cheshire, and a subsequent bomb attack in the town's shopping centre which led to the deaths of two children.
In April, an oil storage tank at the Esso terminal in North Shields, Tyne and Wear, was targeted by terrorists who planted an incendiary device. The IRA also claimed responsibility for planting 12 incendiary devices in the Metro Shopping Centre in Gateshead.
Witnesses to Tuesday night's explosion said the sky was lit up for more than two hours. Police evacuated houses and flats in seven streets near the gasworks.
Intruder alarms at the plant, which contains three gasometers, were activated but this could have been as a result of the blast.
Jayne Rowls, 36, a civil servant who lives near to the gasworks, said: 'I had just gone to bed and turned the light out when there was an enormous bang. I jumped up to the window to see the most amazing flames shooting up into the sky. Everyone ran out into the streets.'
Joan Little, 72, who lives 30 yards away, said: 'It felt as though my bed had jumped three feet into the air. It was a massive bang.'
Blast at Tyneside oil terminal
An explosion happened at an Esso oil terminal in North Shields, Tyne and Wear, just before midnight last night, police said. One report said three blasts had been heard, but the fire service said there was no fire and no casualties. The IRA attacked the same terminal seven weeks ago.
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts
Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested
George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios
Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination
I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title
- 1 Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies after injuring spine doing somersault celebration
- 2 Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 3 Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake report claiming that the street artist's identity has been revealed
- 4 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 5 Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake report claiming that the street artist's identity has been revealed
'Russian submarine spotted' by Swedish military off coast of Stockholm
Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Sorry Judy Finnigan – Ched Evans is no less sickening than an alleyway rapist
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Workers 'could be forced to pay £5 a week' to get benefits
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver allegedly kicks gay couple off for kissing
£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...
£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...
£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...