Page last updated at 13:32 GMT, Sunday, 24 May 2009 14:32 UK

Service marks Abbeystead tragedy

A memorial service has taken place in a Lancashire village to mark the 25th anniversary of the Abbeystead disaster.

Sixteen people were killed and 24 injured during the explosion at the water pumping station in Abbeystead, near Lancaster, on 23 May 1984.

It happened as villagers from nearby St Michael's-on-Wyre were shown around by Northwest Water Authority officials.

Villagers gathered for the memorial service at St Michael's-on Wyre Church, lighting a candle for those who died.

I remember what happened that day
George Tyson, survivor

The names of the dead were read out by Rev Constance Whalley and flowers were also placed under a permanent memorial plaque in the church.

George Tyson, aged 67, a survivor who suffered 75% burns, lost his mother Edith as a result of the blast. She died 13 weeks after the explosion in hospital.

The retired farmer said: "It was a lovely service. A lot of people from the village attended, most of us had been there when the explosion happened or were related to one of them, it touched us all.

"I remember what happened that day but we have had rebuild our lives."

Nine people died immediately, while another seven died later of their injuries, including two children.

The explosion took place in an underground valve house at the plant.

The villagers had been visiting the plant with water authority representatives over concerns about flooding into their village.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found the pumping station was sited close to coal seams which made it vulnerable to build-ups of methane gas.



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