At least one person has died and up to a dozen more are missing after a block of flats was destroyed in an explosion in Jersey’s capital, St Helier, just before 4am.
Jersey Police has said a number of residents are missing after an explosion and fire on the south of the island.
Robin Smith, chief officer at States of Jersey Police, said the force received reports of a “large explosion” at around 4am on Saturday at a block of flats in Pier Road.
He said one person had died and two people, whom he described as “walking wounded”, were taken to hospital.
CO Smith said: “There are of course a number of other people that are unaccounted for and therefore a search and rescue operation has commenced.”
He said Jersey Fire and Rescue Service were liaising with Hampshire Fire and Rescue to help with the search.
CO Smith added 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 on Saturday night.
She also paid tribute to the emergency services for their ongoing work at the scene, which she said would take “some days” to clear.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday morning, 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, CO 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.”
Earlier, 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.”
The force 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.
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