Ninth body found in debris of Jersey block of flats that exploded

The island’s fire service has become the subject of an independent investigation after it emerged that officers were called out to the block of flats on Friday evening, just hours before the explosion.
The island’s fire service has become the subject of an independent investigation after it emerged that officers were called out to the block of flats on Friday evening, just hours before the explosion.

All residents have now been accounted for after a blast which ripped through the island’s capital, St Helier, on Saturday

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Jersey Police have found a ninth body among the debris of a block of flats that exploded five days ago.

All residents have now been accounted for after a blast which ripped through the island’s capital, St Helier, at around 4am on Saturday.

Seven of those who lost their lives have been named as Peter Bowler, 72, Raymond (Raymie) Brown, 71, Romeu and Louise De Almeida, 67 and 64, Derek and Sylvia Ellis, 61 and 73, and 63-year-old Billy Marsden.

Jersey’s Chief of Police Robin Smith said in a statement: “I can confirm that today, Thursday December 15, one further fatality has been confirmed at the Haut du Mont site on Pier Road.

“The number of islanders confirmed to have died in the blast is now nine.

“The families have been made aware of this announcement before the public and media and continue to be supported by our specially trained Family Liaison Officers.

“We believe there are no more residents that remain unaccounted for.

“The search operation will continue until the site has been fully cleared.

“The fatalities have not yet been formally identified.

“The Disaster Victim Identification process will be carefully considered and managed in a dignified and compassionate way.

“The thoughts of all of us at States of Jersey Police are with everyone affected, in particular those who lost loved ones in what has been a tragic incident for our Island and our community.

“May I continue to ask that the privacy of the families is respected.”

Jersey Police have found a ninth body among the debris of a block of flats that exploded five days ago.
Jersey Police have found a ninth body among the debris of a block of flats that exploded five days ago.

Mr Smith said on Sunday that a gas leak was the “likely” cause of the blast but Jo Cox, chief officer at Island Energy, said the flats affected were not connected to the gas network.

The island’s fire service has become the subject of an independent investigation after it emerged that officers were called out to the block of flats on Friday evening, just hours before the explosion.

Paul Brown, head of Jersey Fire and Rescue Service, said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon: “It’s inappropriate for me to talk about anything else on Friday evening because the most appropriate place to do that is through the investigative process, because the only important thing here is the families.

“Ordinarily we would investigate, we investigate hundreds of fires every year, but on this occasion we will commission independent investigators.

“I think it’s important that everybody is absolutely assured about the openness and transparency and the relentless drive for the truth through facts, and that’s why I’m determined that there should be an independent view of the cause of the fire and explosion.

“More practically, this is a large, complex event for a small service like ours.

“You can imagine all of our resources have been drawn into the response and so there is a resourcing issue there as well.”