Four people are believed to be trapped following an explosion that caused a four-storey building to collapse at a wood-making mill in Cheshire.
Up to 70 firefighters are attending the blaze at Wood Flour Mills in Bosley – which has been declared a "major incident".
At least four people have been hospitalised with burn injuries and four people still remain unaccounted for, according to reports.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue said 20 people were working at the site at the time of the explosion and a further 35 people were assessed at the scene by ambulance staff but were not injured.
Residents in the area have been told to stay in their homes and keep windows and doors closed.
The North West Ambulance Trust has deployed six ambulances to the scene including an air ambulance.
A Cheshire Police spokesman confirmed: "At 9.12am on Friday, emergency services received a report of an explosion at Wood Flour Mills in Tunstall Road, Bosley.
"Emergency services are currently at the scene, and have declared this a major incident. It is believed there are four people trapped."
IBTimes UK will be providing updates as they happen
Several hours after the explosion at the Wood Flour Mills in Bosley, police are preparing a rescue mission for the four people still unaccounted for. Follow IB Times UK for the latest updates.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said they will not begin the rescue operation for the three men and one woman for around "three or four hours" while they assess whether it is safe to go inside the property.
Cheshire chief fire officer Paul Hancock said:
It has been extremely difficult for the crews to going and look for the four missing people but our search and rescue teams have experience in Nepal and Japan, they have experience in situations as tragic as these.
"There are a number of significant hazards for the emergency responders so they cannot get to the people yet.
Chesire East council have set a helpline on 0300 123 5034 for anyone who has any concerns or queries regarding.
Steph Cordon, the Councils' head of communities said:
As a local authority we have a well-rehearsed emergency plan for incidents of this nature and I am pleased to say this has been extremely effective today.
The emergency services are doing an amazing job and our thoughts are with the injured and those trapped in the building.
The Council has placed Congleton Leisure Centre on standby and will be providing transport for everyone affected by this.
Bed and breakfast accommodation will be offered to all that need it and we are looking to provide this in the best places we can that work for local people.
We are setting up a 'family and friends' centre, which will be staffed by our social care team, which will provide extra support to people who need it.
We have spoken to our local voluntary and community groups and they are keen to do as much as they can for the community as well. For example, the Red Cross are on standby if we need them.
We are a 'residents first' Council and our thoughts are with the families and friends affected by this terrible incident."
Police have said the names of those those unaccounted for will not be released at this time.
Cheshire Fire have also released a short video of the scene.
More photos from Cheshire Fire showing the extent of the damage:
An North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust spokesperson said:
Emergency services continue to work tirelessly to deal with the major incident at Wood Flour Mills in Tunstall Road, Bosley.
There are 35 people who have been assessed at the scene of the incident by ambulance staff of which four have been treated at the scene for breathing difficulties and a further four have been taken to hospital for treatment – one of those is in a serious condition.
Two patients have been taken to Royal Stoke University Hospital, one patient has been taken to Whiston Hospital and one patient has been taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham by air ambulance.
There have been three explosions and four people remain unaccounted for. A safety cordon has been set up around the scene and nearby Bollin Mill Road has been shut.
We continue to work with all our emergency service partners and the local authority to deal with this incident. At this time we believe four people are trapped and we're dealing with multiple explosions.
We advise anyone in the area to ensure they keep their windows and doors shut, and any drivers in the vicinity should switch off their air conditioning. Please avoid the area while we deal with this.
Difficult and demanding incident
Chief fire officer Paul Hancock said: "This is a difficult and demanding incident. There are a number of hazards that make it particularly dangerous for those attempting to tackle the blaze.
"However, crews and our colleagues from the other emergency services continue to work tirelessly to both bring the fire under control and find the four that are missing. We urge everyone in the area to keep their windows and doors shut as there continues to be a lot of smoke in the area."
Video footage of the factory fire in Bosley
Four hospitalised after factory collapse
Cheshire Fire and Rescue say the fire is now under control. But four people still remain missing.
A statement from Bosley Tug of War Club
"Thank you to those people who have contacted us to express your concerns about the ongoing events at Bosley Wood Treatment today.
As many people will be aware, WTL International have sponsored our tug of war team over many years and our tug of war training facilities are based on their premises.
To be clear, none of our team members were on site at the time of the incident which occurred this morning.
As they day has gone on, it has become clear how very serious this incident is, and from the news reports we have seen, it is the main part of the factory that is affected where the wood flour is processed. At this stage, it looks as though our training facilities are likely to be unaffected as they are located on a separate complex away from the main factory, however, this cannot be verified at this stage.
The main priority at the moment is to allow the emergency services to get on with their job and to make sure that those still missing are accounted for.
In the meantime, our thoughts remain with those affected by this incident and with everyone in the Bosley community."
Getty photograph showing the scene of the explosion
In a press conference, group manager Steve Barnes, from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said:
A large factory has collapsed to a single level pretty much. It is quite a scene of devastation to be honest.
"A few cottages alongside were affected by the blast. We're unsure what the blast was caused by as yet.
Police have confirmed the three people who are still missing are three men and one woman.
Some photos are appearing on social media showing rising smoke and destruction at the scene.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service have given an update on the situation, confirming four people are still unaccounted for.
A spokesperson added:
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus continue to fight the fire with water jets. Four people remain missing and so search and rescue efforts are continuing.
People in the area are reminded to keep their doors and windows shut as there is a lot of smoke in the area.
Multiple explosions on site
"The fire is still raging at this point in time - we've had a number of multiple explosions on site, which have hindered our access in searching for unaccounted persons," Chief Inspector Paul Carroll told BBC Radio Stoke.
"We don't have a definitive number on those unaccounted for at the moment, we've got a number of casualties, but the vast majority of staff have been accounted for.
"The last report we had was that four people were unaccounted for, and two had been taken away by ambulance for treatment.
"It's been declared a major incident by ourselves, North West Ambulance Service and Cheshire East Council. We've also involved the Environment Agency and United Utilities."
Engineers from United Utilities are on their way to help the fire service
Fire service cannot rule out further explosions
In a statement on its website, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said firefighters were facing a dangerous situation as they cannot rule out further explosions.
29-year-old woman suffers serious burns to head and face - 35 others assessed
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: "A 29-year-old woman has sustained serious burns and blast injuries to her head, face, arms and chest.
"She was given pain relief, her burns carefully dressed and she was immobilised before being airlifted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham by the Midlands Air Ambulance from Cosford for further specialist treatment; the MERIT trauma doctor continued treatment en route.
"North West Ambulance Service have, so far, taken two patients to hospital with burns.
"One has been taken by land ambulance to Royal Stoke University Hospital and the other has been airlifted to Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester.
"A further 35 people have also been assessed at a triage unit set up on scene by ambulance staff. None of these were injured and have been discharged on scene.
"We urge residents near to the incident to remain indoors, close your windows and doors to avoid the smoke."