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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 May 2005, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK
Candles lit for explosion victims
Flowers and candles at memorial service
Flowers were laid and candles lit at the service
The first anniversary of the explosion at a Glasgow plastics factory which killed nine people has been marked by a memorial service.

Relatives of the dead, survivors and emergency services attended a service in a Catholic church near the site of the ICL/Stockline plant in Maryhill.

Nine candles were lit, symbolising those who died in the explosion.

An HSE report on the cause of the blast has been sent to the Crown Office but a decision on action is months away.

After the explosion on 11 May 2004, more than 300 firefighters, medics and police joined the 72-hour search for survivors.

It was one of the biggest urban rescue efforts of recent times with firefighters from all over the UK joining those from the Strathclyde brigade to free victims from the rubble.

Brian Sweeney
The cars fell silent, there were no traffic noises, there was an eerie stillness and quietness on a Glasgow afternoon, a sunny afternoon
Brian Sweeney
Strathclyde Firemaster

A mass was held at St Columba's RC Church, yards from the blast site, at 1000 BST one year to the hour after the tragedy.

Strathclyde firemaster Brian Sweeney, who led a team of firefighters for days after the blast, has been reflecting a year on.

He said the one stark memory for him was not of chaos or panic, but of the silence.

Mr Sweeney explained: "At various points in the operation we called for silence so our equipment could pick up the faintest breath or the weakest voice.

"In that sense everyone helped us, the cars fell silent, there were no traffic noises, there was an eerie stillness and quietness on a Glasgow afternoon, a sunny afternoon."

Mr Sweeney said the investigation into the cause of the explosion could take many more months and although that might cause frustration it was important to be thorough as possible.

GLASGOW BLAST VICTIMS
Margaret Brownlie, 49, Strathaven
Annette Doyle, 34, Glasgow
Peter Ferguson, 52, Kilbarchan
Thomas McAulay, 41, Mount Florida, Glasgow
Stewart McColl, 60, West Kilbride
Tracey McErlane, 27, Possilpark, Glasgow
Kenneth Murray, 45, Paisley
Timothy Smith, 31, Johnstone
Ann Trench, 34, Colston, Glasgow

Nick Downie, one of the owners of the factory, was in a doorway when the blast occurred.

A year after the disaster, he still needs a leg support to help him walk.

He said: "Getting back to work and working as hard as I could has in some sense helped me through it.

"The year seems to have been incredibly short for me, it has felt like two months.

"We have been trying to do all we can to help the business survive and work as hard as we could to recover customers.

Need for closure

"It has been a difficult but a fast year for me, it seems to have gone by in seconds."

Mr Downie added: "I would like some closure and to know what actually happened because I am as keen as anyone to find out why, and what and if, but it is a long drawn out process.

"But that will give me some sense of closure when I know what actually happened on the site."

Priest at memorial service
Canon Robert Hill with nine candles lit behind him

Local dean Canon Robert Hill led the memorial service at which a candle was lit for each of the nine people killed in the explosion.

There will be an evening memorial service at the Maryhill Community Centre, where anxious relatives gathered to await news of their loved ones last year.

ICL/Stockline spokeswoman Joanne Downie said: "The first anniversary of the tragedy is a deeply sad occasion as we feel the loss and grieve so deeply for so many dear friends and colleagues.

"The Maryhill Community Centre, whose staff were so involved on that terrible day, is where we can come together to remember those we have lost and give thanks for their lives."




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