Jersey flats blast search for survivors now a recovery operation - rescuers no longer expect to find anyone else alive

Around 12 people are still missing following the incident on Saturday morning

Published

Rescuers searching the scene of an explosion in Jersey in which at least three people died have said they no longer expect to find anyone else alive.

Specialist teams who spent the night combing the wreckage in St Helier, on the south of the island, said their mission is now a “recovery operation”.

It came after police said they believed “around a dozen” people are missing following the blast which destroyed a block of flats at around 4am on Saturday.

Chief of Jersey Police Robin Smith 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.

“Disaster victim identification (DVI) strategies are in place and specialist officers are surveying the scene with fire and ambulance services and tactical advisers from Urban Search and Rescue (Usar).”

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

Jersey Fire and Rescue Service’s chief fire officer, Paul Brown, told a press conference on Saturday that their primary challenge is navigating the “dangerous structure”.

Mr Brown also 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.

Chief Minister Kristina Moore said at least three people had been killed, describing the incident as an “unimaginable tragedy” for the Channel Island.

An update is expected from the government later on Sunday.

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 was working with the fire service to “understand exactly what has happened”.