Jersey: One dead and ‘a dozen’ missing after explosion destroys flats
One person has died and several residents are still missing following a huge explosion in Jersey.
Locals compared the blast to an ‘earthquake’ and said windows at nearby properties had shattered.
Flames had spread through the Haut du Mont flats in Pier Road, St Helier, following the explosion.
Work is underway to find residents who may be ‘trapped in the rubble’.
In a press conference, Jersey’s Chief of Police Robin Smith said the force received reports of a ‘large explosion’ at 4am.
He said one person had died and two people, whom he described as ‘walking wounded’, were taken to hospital.
‘It is a pretty devastating scene’, he told reporters. ‘The scene is a very dangerous one for all of our staff.
‘There are of course a number of other people that are unaccounted for and therefore a search and rescue operation has commenced.’
Between 20 and 30 people evacuated from the area had been taken to St Helier Town Hall.
Jersey Police said in a statement: ‘Following the explosion this morning at Haut du Mont, Pier Road, a number of residents are still missing.
‘Emergency services are working at the scene and have commenced a surface search of the site.
‘Relatives are being contacted by Family Liaison Officers.’
Jersey Police said the fire has been extinguished, but emergency services are still ‘carrying out significant work’ at the scene, which is cordoned off, and people have been asked to avoid the area.
The fire took place in St Helier, one of the twelve parishes of Jersey.
It has a population of 35,822 – over one-third of the total population of Jersey – and is the capital of the island.
Chief minister of Jersey, Kristina Moore, said the flats were run by Andium Homes who were working to ensure anyone who has been displaced has somewhere to stay.
The politician also paid tribute to the emergency services for their ongoing work at the scene, which she said would take ‘some days’ to clear.
Ms Moore said: ‘Through these difficult times, I think it’s reassuring for everyone to see what amazing strength we have within our emergency services and, again, we just thank everybody who stepped up and came to the rescue and continue to work on the scene.
‘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.’
Asked how many people were still missing, Mr Smith said: ‘Given the destruction of the building it is hard to properly assess the numbers.
‘We are looking in the region of around a dozen currently, but you will appreciate also that number could fluctuate.’
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