Bosley flour mill explosion
Cheshire Fire & Rescue has confirmed that a body has been recovered following the devastating blast at Bosley Wood Flour MillsCheshire Fire & Rescue

A body has been found in the wreckage of the Cheshire wood mill.

Rescue workers searching for four people who were reported missing after an explosion and fire at a mill in Bosley, made the grim discovery two days after the blast on 17 July.

The missing workers have been named as William Barks, 51, Dorothy Bailey, 62, Jason Shingler, 38, and Derek Moore, 62. They have not been seen since a 1,000 degrees centigrade fireball tore through the mill at Bosley, near Macclesfield, reducing the four-storey building to rubble.

The identity of the victim has yet to be confirmed but the families of those missing have been informed, Cheshire Police said.

Police said in a statement: "This is a particularly difficult time for the families involved and it is with regret that Cheshire Police are confirming this evening that a body has been located in one of the two areas being searched.

"The body has not been positively identified. The four families who are awaiting news about their family member have been informed of this development and HM Coroner has been informed.

"Emergency services have remained at the scene of a major incident in Bosley throughout the day. The operation at the site has continued throughout the day concentrating on two areas identified by the search and rescue efforts.

"The thoughts of all the agencies involved are with the families at this time and Cheshire Police are asking members of the media to respect the family's privacy as they try to come to terms with this latest development."

Chief Fire Officer Paul Hancock said earlier that fire-fighters faced a "very challenging and demanding environment" during the search, but have focused their efforts on two particular locations.

"We are slowly and methodically accessing those two areas," he said. "We firmly believe we are searching the right areas. Efforts continued overnight and this morning, in particular two areas within the collapsed building. We have managed to secure two safe pathways to these areas and are working in conjunction with search and rescue teams and police."

Mr Hancock said the areas had been located with the help of witnesses who were able to escape from the building, and later confirmed by sniffer dogs.

"I must emphasise, these are very challenging environments and we are all working effectively together," he explained. "Our thoughts continue to be with the families, and can I say thank you for the support we have been receiving from the community for their work on site."

Describing the impact of the explosion he added: "The scene down there is one of complete devastation. We have a building that has exploded from the inside and subsequently collapsed in on itself. There are huge complexities around the challenges for the search and rescue teams - we are working close to a bank of six silos, three of which have fallen over in the explosion and the other three are still quite unstable.

"Again we are taking our time in a methodical search of other areas but are also conscious that there are risks still there in the vicinity."

It has since been revealed that council inspectors visited the factory a fortnight ago over complaints about noise and dust from the factory, which makes wood flour - a type of find sawdust graded by size - for pet bedding.

Michael Jones, leader of Cheshire East council, said the firm complied with orders to clean up the site, adding: "We were on the site two weeks ago and they did well to clear it up."

Fire chiefs have also said that they were called to blazes at the wood mill in 2012 and 2010.

The company which owns the mill, Wood Treatment Ltd, part of the Boden Group, has not made any public comment since the explosions on Friday morning.

Local Conservative MP David Rutley told Sky News that as far as he was aware, the firm has also not been in touch with its employees in the 48 hours since the explosions.

"Our primary thought is about those who are missing and their families, and those who are still recovering from the blast," he said.

"But the next thoughts are with those who are employed there and clearly the company needs to step forward and make contact with their employees."

The investigation into the incident will eventually be handed over from the fire service to police for a joint investigation with the Health and Safety Executive.

Earlier today, prayers were said at St Mary the Virgin parish church in Bosley, with loved ones of the missing joining the congregation.

"People are listening, helping and talking. But the signs of real impact are beginning to show," he added.

Small pockets of fires were still burning on the site yesterday, more than 48 hours after the accident.