'Traumatised' Jersey residents start returning home after explosion that resulted in five deaths

The cause of the explosion remains under investigation.
The cause of the explosion remains under investigation.

The cordon around the Haut du Mont explosion in the island’s capital of St Helier was reduced on Monday

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Jersey residents have started to return to their homes following an explosion at a block of flats which killed five people.

The cordon around the Haut du Mont explosion in the island’s capital of St Helier was reduced on Monday, allowing some evacuated residents to return home.

The cause of the explosion, which happened in the early hours of Saturday morning, is still under investigation.

It comes as Jersey’s energy supplier announced it is carrying out safety testing of the entire island’s gas supply.

Jersey Police chief Robin Smith says the cause was 'likely' a gas leak.
Jersey Police chief Robin Smith says the cause was 'likely' a gas leak.

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

According to the Jersey Evening Post, a statement on Monday afternoon from Ms Cox said: “Island Energy continues to work alongside the emergency services as they continue their recovery operation.

“The company will conduct its own investigation into what happened, as well as helping the various official inquiries.

“Our engineers are safety-testing the island’s gas network, and this will be completed in the next few days. No issues have been detected in the survey so far.”

Residents on North Quay Parade, close to the site of the explosion, have begun returning to their homes after the police cordon was reduced.

Several buildings, including the homes of Andy Rawlinson, 54, and Steve McCherry, 60, have been damaged by the blast – with windows smashed and debris across their doorsteps.

Mr Rawlinson told the PA news agency he had been woken by the “almighty bang” of the explosion at 4am and he felt “traumatised” returning home, while Mr McCherry said the impact had thrown him from his bed.

Residents spoke about hearing an 'almighty bang'.
Residents spoke about hearing an 'almighty bang'.

A Jersey resident since 1979, Mr Rawlinson said: “It’s scary, it’s traumatic as well.

“It’s horrible being a few hundred yards away from where people are dying and there’s not a thing you can do.

“People have lost their lives so close to Christmas, it’s so so sad.

“I’ve never seen anything like that here. It’s devastating.”

During an address to Jersey’s State Assembly, Chief Minister Kristina Moore said: “One tragic incident is enough to shake a small community.

“To have a second within a matter of days is not something we have ever experienced.

“The devastating explosion at Haut du Mont has shocked everyone in the Island and around the world.

“I’m sure Members will have seen the footage, which makes for painful viewing, and is unprecedented for Jersey in modern times.

“Put simply, most of us will have never seen anything like it.”