Jersey explosion death toll rises to five with more feared missing

The search has moved to a 'recovery stage', which is likely to take 'weeks'.

Jersey explosion death toll rises to five with four more people feared missing in St Helier Daniel Hunt

Five people are confirmed to have died following an explosion at a block of flats in the Jersey capital.

States of Jersey Police gave an updated death toll on Sunday evening as specialist teams continued the recovery operation on Pier Road, St Helier.

The force estimated that four more people are also likely to be recovered from the wreckage of the three-storey Haut du Mont residential block, which was destroyed in the blast at 4am on Saturday.

Police chief Robin Smith said: “The number of islanders confirmed to have been killed in the blast is now five.

“There are still a number of residents, we are working on the assumption of four, that remain unaccounted for.

“Their families were made aware of this announcement before other islanders. They continue to be supported by special officers.”

Mr Smith told a press conference earlier on Sunday that the search had moved to a “recovery stage”, which is likely to take “weeks”.

Mr Smith added it “looks likely” that the blast was a gas explosion, but this has not been confirmed.

Chief Minister Kristina Moore told reporters that the wider community of Jersey has been “immensely shocked and saddened” by the incident and the government had been “overwhelmed” by their “offers of support”.

Jersey chief fire officer Paul Brown acknowledged that something had gone “horribly wrong” and his service will be “co-operating fully” and “transparently” with investigations into what caused the blast.

Mr Brown earlier confirmed that firefighters had been called to the building at 8.36pm on Friday and had carried out investigations after residents reported smelling gas – just hours before the blast.

Specialist teams from other parts of the UK, including the Isle of Wight and Hampshire, have been drafted in to aid the response.

Andium Homes, a state-owned but independent company which rents out thousands of properties on the island, said it is focusing on supporting residents at the estate.

Gas supplier Island Energy said it is working with the fire service to “understand exactly what has happened”.

A candelit vigil was held for those affected by the tragedy at the nearby Parish Church of St Helier on Saturday night, and a note had been left on a noticeboard reading “give strength to those families who’ve been lost this week”.

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