A WORKER at a Northumberland agricultural business is lucky to be alive after spending more than two hours trapped in a silo among hundreds of thousands of tons of grain.
The man, who has not been named, was at work at Swarland Grain Driers, south of Alnwick near the A1, when he became trapped yesterday morning.
Firefighters and paramedics engaged in a lengthy battle to rescue the 57-year-old, from nearby Amble.
He was eventually pulled to safety and emerged unharmed.
Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service head of community safety Rob Clow, who was at the incident, believes the man had a miraculous escape.
He said: “Rescuing someone who is trapped in a grain silo is always extremely difficult and this morning’s incident was no exception.
“The silo contained hundreds of thousands of tons of grain and it was vital that the flow of the grain was controlled to try and prevent the man from getting crush injuries.
“Our fire crews worked hard during a very complex operation that involved working closely with paramedics from the North-East Ambulance Service.
“Fortunately the man was trapped near to the side of the silo and eventually we were able to pull him out.
“Incidents like this very rarely have a happy ending, but fortunately today a possible tragedy was averted and the man did not sustain any serious injuries.”
The fire service was alerted to the incident at 8.54am and dispatched two engines from Tyne and Wear, one of which was had an aerial ladder platform, two from Morpeth, one from Amble and one from Alnwick. Police were also in attendance.
The man was immersed up to between waist and chest level in a shed, roughly the size of a football pitch, containing hundreds of thousands of tons of grain.
Luckily he was trapped against one of the silo’s removable walls, giving firefighters access.
Working from a gantry in the main part of the silo, crews placed a line on the man to stop him being submerged and gave him oxygen to help him breathe.
Using the ladder appliance, more firefighters were able to remove a roof panel and lower another line to the man.
Crews worked with paramedics, employing equipment usually used in road accidents to remove the wall that he was trapped against.
They then pierced small holes in a polythene surface beyond the wall to allow grain to seep away and ease the pressure on the man.
At 11.15am, the man was able to free himself. Within 15 minutes he was able to walk.
He was checked at the scene by paramedics but did not require hospital treatment. The man was however sent home from work.
Staff were still clearing up grain which had spilt on to the surrounding yard last night.
The Health and Safety Executive has been notified of the accident.
The company was unavailable for comment last night.