Jersey explosion: 15 people fear being killed and a criminal investigation could be opened | Jersey
Fifteen people are believed to have been killed and a criminal investigation could be opened after a suspected gas explosion destroyed an apartment block in the center of Jersey’s capital, St Helier.
Three people have been confirmed dead, but a further ‘dozen’ are believed to be missing, with island fire chief Paul Brown warning he is no longer leading a rescue mission.
Along with an effort to identify and recover the remains, which Brown said could take weeks, an investigation has been launched into the action of firefighters in the hours leading up to Saturday’s 4am explosion. .
Less than eight hours before the three-story Upper Mount apartments on Pier Road were enveloped in a ball of fire, firefighters were called at 8.36pm on Friday to the site after residents reported a gas leak presumed.
Brown said he would be “transparent” about the events leading up to the explosion and that something had “gone horribly wrong”, but did not say whether any staff members had been suspended.
“I would not provide information on employment matters on any basis in any scenario,” he said. “It’s not something I would do in an operational setting. But my commitment is that we are now focused on the task at hand and on the search operation in support of our colleagues in the emergency services and the much wider community. And openness and transparency are absolutely guaranteed.
When asked if a criminal investigation could be opened, Jersey Police Chief Robin Smith said: “We don’t rule anything out and we don’t rule anything out.”
He added: “We have three confirmed deaths. And I think it’s fair to say that we expect to find more. Previously we said probably in the order of a dozen, but you will understand how difficult it is to make this assessment. … It’s a number we’re hoping not to hit, but it’s the number we’re sort of working on.
Smith said all relatives had been notified and early signs were that the blast was a gas explosion, but that had not been confirmed.
“It seems likely that it is,” he said. “But of course, as you often hear the police department say, you know, we’re keeping all of our options open. It seems likely, but “we don’t know” is a simple answer. »
Two people who were hospitalized on Saturday were discharged from hospital, with another person receiving treatment for non-serious injuries.
Teams of specialists from other parts of the UK, including the Isle of Wight and Hampshire, have been recruited to help with the response.
Smith said the use of sniffer dogs led them to conclude that there were no more survivors to be found.
He said: “We brought in a number of specialist assets yesterday afternoon, some of whom came to Chinooks. Thanks to the support, the military, bringing not only these specialized resources, but also sniffer dogs, to give us the confidence we need, that we are now in the recovery phase. So inevitably, tragically and unfortunately, it does.
Jersey Chief Minister Kristina Moore told reporters at a press conference on Sunday that the entire Jersey community had been “tremendously shocked and saddened” by the incident and that the government had been ” overwhelmed” by their “offers of support”.
Earlier, Moore said she was awakened by the explosion. “Across the island you could hear this amazing sound,” she said. “It wasn’t very clear what it was about, but it certainly woke me up and a lot of people.”