Here’s what we know about the explosion in St Helier, Jersey’s capital, that led to the deaths of at least five people.
– St Helier
The South Coast Region is one of Jersey’s 12 parishes, is home to approximately 36,000 people and accounts for a third of the island’s total population.
Most Jersey government offices are located in St Helier.
– The explosion
The blast occurred around 4 a.m. Saturday in the three-storey Haut Du Mont residential block owned by Andium Homes.
Jersey Police Chief Robin Smith said it is ‘probable’ the blast was a gas explosion, but they ‘don’t know at the moment’.
– The answer
Jersey’s emergency services were assisted by specialist teams from the UK, including Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Dozens of rescuers attempted to locate people as part of a search and recovery operation.
Cranes are deployed to search the wreckage and sniffer dogs search the rubble.
On Sunday, police said the rescue mission had become a “salvage operation,” in which an estimated four other residents were killed.
– The victims
The five dead have yet to be named by police, but their families have been notified.
– The reaction
Prime Minister Kristina Moore described the incident as a “huge shock” and an “unimaginable tragedy” for the Channel Island.
Justice Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab tweeted: “I am deeply saddened by the incident in Jersey this morning and my thoughts are with everyone involved.
“I commend the work of the emergency services responding and we stand ready to support in any way we can.”
– The research
Jersey State Police said they would continue to investigate all circumstances surrounding the cause of the deadly explosion.
The investigation is coordinated by the police and includes the fire brigade and gas technicians working on site, which is still cordoned off.
Police said these investigations are likely to continue in the coming weeks.
Jersey Police Chief Robin Smith said on Sunday: ‘The police are very independent operationally, I am completely independent from anyone in terms of this investigation.
“We will look for experts who are also independent, as we would with any investigation where there are certain specialties, rest assured, this will be an independent investigation.”
Asked if any criminal activity was suspected, he said: “We are not ruling anything out.”
– The impact on the community
Co-Rector of St Helier’s Parish Church, James Porter, said the incident had had a ‘profound’ impact on the community, particularly as it came days after three fishermen went missing at sea off Jersey’s west coast.
Speaking at the church the day after a candlelight vigil was held for those affected by the blast, Mr Porter said: ‘This has impacted the community in a profound way.
‘It’s a very small community in Jersey, and a lot of people know a lot of people, so there are a lot of links.
“I think following the tragedy of the lost fishermen earlier this week, it was hard for people to digest too.”
Mr Porter added that he was encouraged by the deluge of donations and offers of help in St Helier, and that the church would be open to anyone who needed it.