Jersey explosion death toll rises to three as search continues

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The death toll from an explosion at a block of flats in Jersey has risen to three.

The building was brought down by the blast in St Helier in the early hours of this morning.

Residents reportedly complained they could smell gas hours before the tragedy.

The remains of the three-storey building will be searched overnight for any remaining survivors.

It’s feared around a dozen people are still missing in the rubble.

Paul Brown, chief fire officer, said: ‘The plan is that we will continue searching and we have no other plan at this stage.

‘We are just continuing to search and most of our efforts at the moment are about organisation and logistics of securing the right support at the right time, and making sure that the right equipment arrives in the right sequence.’

He later added: ‘The area is being lit and teams will be working tonight, all night, and we will not stop for the time being.’

He said around 12 people were missing, adding: ‘We are thinking in the region of around a dozen people. My hope, of course, is that the number is a lot less.’

A building on Pier Road in St Helier was reduced to rubble by the explosion (Picture: SWNS)

Chief Minister Kristina Moore called it an ‘unimaginable tragedy’ for the Channel Island.

Chief of States of Jersey Police Robin Smith said: ‘This is a protracted incident and this is going to go on for days, maybe weeks, and therefore it is important to have resources to continue to keep going.’

Daniel Hunt, a 19-year-old data administrator, said the explosion woke him at around 4am.

‘My bedroom was shaken from the explosion with the windows rattling, which was all very unnerving,’ he said.

‘I went outside to take a look… I could see what looked like police and firefighters shining torches through windows of surrounding buildings.

‘I assume as they were evacuating the surrounding area. The building (was) up in flames with smoke pouring out of the windows.’

Smoke was scene rising above the scene this morning (Picture: PA)

In an earlier press conference, Jersey’s Chief of Police Robin Smith said the force received reports of a ‘large explosion’ at 4am.

‘It is a pretty devastating scene’, he told reporters.

Justice secretary Dominic Raab said: ‘I’m deeply saddened by the incident in Jersey this morning and my thoughts are with everyone affected.

‘I commend the work of the emergency services responding and we stand ready to support in any way we can.’

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