THE search for three demolition workers trapped beneath rubble at Didcot Power Station has resumed following a controlled explosion at the site this morning.

Site owner RWE announced tonight that the recovery operation will now continue "seven days a week, 12 hours a day" until the three men are found.

Demolition workers used controlled robots to detonate explosives at 6.01am this morning, bringing down the remaining, unstable half of the boiler house which trapped the three men when it partially collapsed on February 23.

The families of Ken Cresswell, Chris Huxtable and John Shaw have been asking RWE since then to recover their loved ones as quickly as possible to they can be "taken home".

This morning's explosion was heard across southern Oxfordshire and eyewitnesses saw sparks fly around the bottom of the structure as a boom sent a sea of smoke across the town.

After confirming the demolition of the unstable structure was successful, RWE announced the recovery operation re-started a few hours later.

Spokeswoman Kelly Nye said tonight: "We understand that the time taken to locate Ken Cresswell, Chris Huxtable and John Shaw has been deeply upsetting for their families.

"Now that the building has been brought down an inspection has confirmed that the area and debris pile are safe and our contractors have resumed the recovery operation.

"We will continue working seven days a week, 12 hours a day to help return these families’ loved ones to them as soon as possible."

Hundreds of rescue workers spent day and night on site in a bid to find the missing men: Chris Huxtable, 34, from Swansea, Ken Cresswell, 57, and John Shaw, 61, from Rotherham, after half of the boiler house collapsed on February 23.

But the recovery mission was stopped in May when workers reached a 50 metre exclusion zone.

The view at 5.59am this morning:

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And then minutes later...

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The demolition was over in a matter of seconds.

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After today’s demolition it is hoped that workers will now be able to access an area of the site which had been red taped for health and safety reasons.

Don Chambers, who lives on the Ladygrove Estate, was walking his dog with his family as the boiler house was detonated.

He said: “Building come and go but people’s lives do not.

“It is devastating for the families and I can only hope this will be the start of the end for them.

“I hope now they will be able to get recovery men in there and find them.”

The tragedy, which also killed demolition worker Mick Collings, 53, of Teesside, struck a chord with residents of Didcot.

Dani Bedding, 26, of Fleet Way, said: “It is because people from Didcot experience loss frequently what with the barracks and bomb specialists in Didcot.

“Grief brings people together and I think because it has happened in the local area the community feels a bit of responsibility.”

Andy Hunter, who lives in Ladygrove, said the atmosphere today was completely different to two years ago when the cooling towers at Didcot A were demolished.

He said: “It is heart breaking for the families.

“I remember when we were all up here last time, it was like a big party to see that piece of history go down.

“Everyone was very excited about the cooling towers, but this, today, well it just makes you think and hope these men can now be found.

“I can’t begin to think what the families have been through – I hope they’ll get them out now, to be honest I don’t think it will be long until they are found.”

A statement from Thames Valley Police said: "Specialist officers are continuing to support the families of the missing men; Christopher Huxtable, Ken Cresswell and John Shaw, as well as the family of Michael Collings, whose body has already been recovered from the site.

"The absolute priority of our multi-agency response remains the recovery of the missing men so they can be returned to their families and to understand what caused this tragic incident."