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Stockline explosion hero recounts memories of tragedy ten years on

ONE of the men who helped victims' families and survivors in the aftermath of the Stockline blast has spoken of his memories of the tragedy ahead of the 10th anniversary.

Nine people died and 33 were injured after the explosion in the four-storey ICL Plastics factory in Maryhill, Glasgow, on May 11, 2004. The initial blast left around a dozen people trapped under the debris and a painstaking rescue operation was launched, which lasted for four days.

Gary Gentles, development services manager at Maryhill Community Central Halls, which provided a refuge for survivors and relatives as they waited for news, said he remembered the "surreal" moment he heard a loud bang, followed by silence, and realised "something serious had happened".

Mr Gentles said: "Our initial reaction was to make space in the halls downstairs for injured folk or a place for people to come.

"It turned out that we had nine families. So they were there under our care for four days. It was a 24-hour operation."

Supermarkets and other local shops, as well as community centres, helped provide everyone at the halls with supplies - toothbrushes, tea, biscuits, whatever was needed.

Mr Gentles said: "We waited and hoped and, if you like, prayed that the last person would come out alive. But history tells you there were nine folk dead."

Mr Gentles said that there were moments of laughter amid the heartache as they waited for news. "People were bereaved but we lived in hope," he said.

The nine people who lost their lives were Stewart McColl, Margaret Brownlie, Annette Doyle, Peter Ferguson, Thomas McAulay, Tracey McErlane, Kenneth Murray, Tim Smith and Ann Trench.

Tim Smith's was the last body to be pulled from the rubble three days after the explosion.

A public inquiry found the blast was "avoidable" and that risks were not identified or understood.

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