Police end search with 12 people still missing after Jersey tower block explosion

Officers were searching through the wreckage overnight (Picture: Reuters)

Police have called off searches for those feared to have been killed in a tower block explosion in Jersey.

The blast killed three people yesterday, and now police have said they no longer expect to find anyone alive despite a dozen people still left missing.

Flames ripped through the aut du Mont flats in Pier Road, St Helier, following the explosion in the early hours of the morning.

Emergency services worked tirelessly through the night to try and save any survivors, however searches were called off this morning.

Robin Smith, chief of police, said: ‘It is with sadness that I am confirming that the search and rescue operation had been moved to a recovery operation.

‘The decision was made after a detailed assessment and following the use of specialist K9 units.

Police have called off searches following the explosion yesterday (Picture: PA)
Crews have been working throughout the night (Picture: PA)
The aftermath of the explosion at a block of flats in St Helier, Jersey (Picture: PA)
At least three people were killed in the fire (Picture: PA)

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A resident who lives across the bay from the block of flats hit by the explosion said his bedroom was ‘shaken’ by the blast.

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.’

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.

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About 12 people are still missing (Picture: SWNS)
Jersey’s Chief of Police Robin Smith said the force received reports of a ‘large explosion’ at 4am (Picture: Government of Jersey)
The scene early yesterday morning (Picture: SWNS)
The scene early this morning (Picture: SWNS)

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‘We have a three-storey building that has completely collapsed – described from a demolition point of view as a pancake that has dropped almost straight down.

‘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.

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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