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At least three dead in Jersey explosion and fire


t least three people have died following an explosion and fire at a block of flats in Jersey after residents reported smelling gas.

The deaths came at around 4am on Saturday after a huge blast which caused the three-storey building in St Helier to collapse.

Chief Minister Kristina Moore announced that at least three people had died, with a search and rescue operation for further people ongoing.

She said it was an “unimaginable tragedy” for the Channel Island.

Chief of States of Jersey Police Robin Smith told a press conference: “This is a protracted incident and this is going to go on for days, maybe weeks.”

He said around 12 people were missing, adding: “We are thinking in the region of around a dozen people. My hope, of course, is that the number is a lot less.”

Earlier, he said the fire service had been called to the area the night before after residents reported smelling gas.

He told the latest press conference: “It is a scene of tragedy, but it is a scene of complete devastation.”

Paul Brown, chief fire officer, said: “The plan is that we will continue searching, and we have no other plan at this stage.”

He added: “The primary challenge is the fact that we have a dangerous structure that has collapsed.”

He continued: “Anything that we do, or do in the wrong way, may then jeopardise the chance of survival of anyone who might be rescued.”

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”.

Residents of the flats have been moved to St Helier Town Hall, where they are being supported.

Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab tweeted: “I’m deeply saddened by the incident in Jersey this morning and my thoughts are with everyone affected.

“I commend the work of the emergency services responding and we stand ready to support in any way we can.”

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