ONE person has died and 12 are missing after an explosion at a Jersey apartment block was so powerful it was “picked up by earthquake monitors”.
The horror blast in Jersey’s capital St Helier happened just before 4am as emergency services launched a search for survivors.
Jersey Police confirmed a number of residents are missing after the explosion and fire in the south of the island left debris strewn across the area.
Officers cordoned off a large part of St Helier after one person was reported dead and police urged people to stay away from the Mount Bingham area.
Two others, described by police as “injured in progress”, were evacuated to nearby City Hall for treatment.
The force said in a statement: “A number of residents are still missing following the explosion this morning at Haut du Mont, Pier Road.
“Emergency services are working at the site and have begun a surface search of the site.
“Relatives will be contacted by Family Liaison Officers.”
Jersey States Police Chief Officer Robin Smith added: “There are of course a number of other people who are missing and as such a search and rescue operation has begun.”
He said the Jersey Fire and Rescue Service is in contact with Hampshire Fire and Rescue to help with the search.
Mr Smith added that between 20 and 30 people who had been evacuated from the area had been taken to St Helier Town Hall.
Twenty-one police officers, nine paramedics and 19 firefighters were at the scene.
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Police officers said the fire had 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.
Local reports have confirmed that firefighters were called on Friday night – many hours before the blast – after residents reported smelling of gas.
Jersey Premier Kristina Moore said the homes would be operated by Andium Homes, who were working to ensure everyone who was evicted has somewhere to stay tonight.
She also credited the emergency services for their ongoing work at the scene, which would take “a few days” to clear.
Speaking at a news conference on Saturday morning, Ms Moore said: “In these trying times I find it reassuring for everyone to see the amazing strength we have in our emergency services and we thank once again everyone who stood up and came to the rescue and continue to work on.” the scene of the accident.
“This will take a few days and we will keep everyone informed and fully informed and do our best to ensure everyone is properly looked after.”
When asked how many people were still missing, Mr Smith said: “Given the destruction of the building, it’s difficult to give a proper estimate of the numbers.
“We’re currently searching in the range of about a dozen, but you’ll also appreciate that the number can fluctuate.”
Jersey Consumer Council leader Carl Walker said: “Thoughts are with all affected by the explosion at St Helier this morning, which was powerful enough to be picked up by the British Geological Survey’s earthquake monitors.
“Now is the time for Jersey’s community to respond like never before.”
While there is no confirmation of the cause of the blast at this time, Jersey’s gas utility – Island Energy – posted an update on Twitter.
The tweet read: “We are working with @JsyFire to understand exactly what happened and will share more information as it becomes available.
“We ask that islanders continue to follow the advice of the emergency services at this time.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6885486/jersey-explosion-one-person-dead/ Jersey blast: One dead and ‘about 12’ missing after apartment block blast as emergency services launch search