Search for last blast victim continues

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Rescuers confirmed today that they were looking for one remaining victim of a factory blast that has claimed eight lives.

Rescuers confirmed today that they were looking for one remaining victim of a factory blast that has claimed eight lives.

Firemaster Brian Sweeney, who is leading the operation at the disaster site in Glasgow's Maryhill area, confirmed that an eighth body had been pulled from the rubble during the night.

He said his crews had now searched about 50 per cent of the wreckage of the Stockline factory since the blast at midday on Tuesday.

He said: "We discovered an eighth victim of this tragedy. We still believe there to be one person trapped underneath that rubble.

"We have fresh teams, fresh crews and fresh dogs on site this morning. We remain optimistic, sleeves are rolled up and morale is high."

Mr Sweeney said the rescue effort was now focusing on removing the roof of the collapsed factory and using fresh sniffer dogs. Mine rescue workers and firefighters were also boring more tunnels into the rubble.

Mr Sweeney said there had been no sound of voices from beneath the rubble since the early hours of yesterday morning, but he remained hopeful that the remaining victim of the blast could still be alive.

"We've had no vocal contact but that doesn't mean that the previous vocal contacts aren't just a person who's now unconscious, trapped in a void and waiting for us to rescue them."

He added: "We're putting in even more effort to give anyone who could have survived that the best possible chance.

"The search will continue as long as there's hope and as long as I am persuaded it is worth risking my firefighters' lives to save life."

Mr Sweeney said that fresh sniffer dogs had been drafted in because the noses of the previous ones had become contaminated by dust, and he hoped that with 75% of the building's roof now removed, they would find it easier to detect any signs of life.

He said of the eighth victim: "This is one of two anticipated casualties that was in the building.

"Given that slight setback, my optimism remains high and we hope that the one remaining person in that building is still alive."

At 3am a large section of the collapsed roof was cut by firefighters in a cage suspended from a crane.

The section was then pulled away by another crane, sending a large cloud of dust into the sky.

More sections of the roof were removed by the same method throughout the night.

Yesterday, Strathclyde Police Chief Superintendent David Christie confirmed that 44 people were taken to hospital after the blast, with 16 in a serious condition.

Seven of the injured were pulled from the rubble. The last known survivor was rescued at 9pm on Tuesday.

Some survivors have suggested that four ovens in the factory, two electric and two gas, may have exploded.

Yesterday police issued the names of seven of the dead.

They were: Ann Trench, 34, of Colston, in the north of Glasgow; Margaret Brownlie, 49, of Glassford Road, Strathaven, Lanarkshire; Tracey McErlane, 27, of Wester Common Drive, Possilpark, Glasgow; Peter Ferguson, 52, of Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire; Annette Rosina Doyle, 24, of Crowhill Street, Glasgow; Thomas McAulay, 41, from Somerville Drive, Mount Florida, Glasgow; and James Stewart McColl, 60, from Halfway, West Kilbride.

Mr McColl, Stockline Plastics' chief executive, is believed to have been working on the fourth floor of the building at the time of the blast.

His daughter Sheena, who worked alongside him, is thought to be seriously ill in hospital.

Ms McErlane gave birth to a baby boy last year and the Daily Record reported that Ms Trench had been due to leave the company tomorrow to start a new job.

Scotland's First Minister Jack McConnell visited the site and pledged a "full and thorough investigation" into the circumstances of the tragedy.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, Conservative leader Michael Howard and Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy united to send their condolences to the families of the victims.

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