Three killed in explosion at flats in Jerseyon December 10, 2022 at 6:18 pm

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At least three people have died after an explosion at a block of flats in Jersey.

Scene of flats collapsing in St Helier

At least three people have died after an explosion at a block of flats in Jersey.

About a dozen people are missing after the collapse of the building in St Helier. Two people who were in hospital earlier have been released and one other person is receiving treatment.

Chief of Police Robin Smith said searches at the site would continue throughout the night.

He said it was a “scene of complete devastation” at Pier Road.

Mr Smith said “there are a number of working hypotheses” as to what happened but warned people “not to speculate”.

He added: “Thankfully these circumstances are very rare but nevertheless they are of deep concern to communities.”

Site of explosion

The blast happened at about 04:00 GMT on Saturday.

Chief Fire Officer Paul Brown said: “The plan is we will continue searching. Teams will be working all night and they will not stop.”

He added: “The primary challenge is the fact that we have a dangerous structure that has collapsed.

“Anything that we do, or do in the wrong way, may then jeopardise the chance of survival of anyone who might be rescued.”

Haut De Mont flats

Image source, MB Infocus/Google

Witnesses have spoken of the ground being shaken by the force of the explosion.

Daniel Hunt, 19, from St Helier, tweeted pictures of the fire from his flat.

He said: “Everything shook, my windows were shaking, the whole room shook.

“You could feel the shockwave through your bedroom almost.

“In the moment you think, what was that?”

The government has repurposed its Covid helpline for those who need support following the incident.

Fire scene

Image source, Michael Bewley/MB Infocus

Jersey’s gas supplier, Island Energy, said it was working with the fire service to understand what happened.

It was earlier confirmed the fire service had attended the scene on Friday night after the smell of gas was reported.

The chief fire officer was asked if the call on Friday had anything to do with the cause of the explosion.

Mr Brown said: “I will give you an answer to that but what I’d like to do for the moment is focus on the emergency response, talk to my colleagues and consider those bits that are subject to investigation and make sure I don’t tell you something that I need to tell someone else first.”

The three-storey building which has collapsed is owned by Andium Homes which is a state-owned but independent company that rents out properties.

It said it was focusing on supporting residents at the estate.

Specialist teams

Image source, Government of Jersey

The Government of Jersey said specialist teams from the UK had arrived to support local crews in the search for survivors.

The South West Hazardous Area Response Team has arrived on the island, alongside an Urban Search and Rescue Team from Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service.

A Chinook helicopter, typically used for military operations, was due to bring specialist equipment to the island, the government said.

Town church

Chief Minister Kristina Moore said it was an “unimaginable tragedy”.

She said residents displaced by the blast were being found somewhere to stay.

“This is going to take some days and we will keep everyone updated and fully informed, and we will do our very best to ensure everybody is properly looked after,” Ms Moore added.

The Town Church opened on Saturday evening for islanders to light candles and pay respects to those who had died.

Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab tweeted he was “deeply saddened” by the news.

“I commend the work of the emergency services responding and we stand ready to support in any way we can,” he said.

Ms Moore said: “We must call on the collective strength of the island community.”

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