Police have called off a search for those who feared they were killed in a building explosion in Jersey.
The blast killed three people yesterday, and now police have said they no longer expected to find anyone alive despite a dozen people still missing.
Flames engulfed apartments on Aut du Mont in Pier Road, St Helier, following the blast in the early hours of the morning.
Emergency services worked tirelessly through the night in an attempt to rescue survivors, but the search was called off this morning.
Robin Smith, Chief Constable, said: ‘It is with sadness that I confirm that the search and rescue operation has been moved to a recovery operation.
“The decision was made after a detailed assessment and following the use of specialist K9 units.
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A resident who lives across the bay from the building hit by the blast said his room was “shaken” by the blast.
Daniel Hunt, a 19-year-old data administrator, said the blast woke him around 4 a.m.
“My room shook from the explosion with the rattling of the windows, which was very unnerving,” he said.
“I went out to take a look…I could see what looked like police and firefighters shining torches through the windows of the surrounding buildings.
“I guess they were evacuating the area. The building (was) in flames with smoke coming out of the windows.
At a press conference, Jersey Police Chief Robin Smith said police received reports of a “large explosion” at 4am.
He said one person died and two people, whom he described as “walking injured”, were taken to hospital.
“It’s a pretty devastating scene,” he told reporters.
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“We have a three-storey building that has completely collapsed – described from a demolition perspective as a pancake that has fallen almost straight down.
“There are of course a number of other people missing and therefore a search and rescue operation has begun.”
Between 20 and 30 people evacuated from the area had been taken to St Helier town hall.
Jersey Chief Minister Kristina Moore said the flats were run by Andium Homes who were working to ensure anyone displaced had a home.
The politician also paid tribute to the emergency services for their ongoing work at the scene, which she said would take “a few days” to clean up.
Ms Moore said: ‘In these trying times, I think it’s reassuring for everyone to see what incredible strength we have within our emergency services and, again, we just thank everyone who is standing up. are mobilized and came to the rescue and continue to work on the scene.
“It’s going to take a few days and we’ll keep everyone up to date and fully informed and we’ll do our best to make sure everyone is properly taken care of.”
Asked about the number of people still missing, Mr Smith said: ‘Given the destruction of the building, it is difficult to properly assess the figures.
“We are currently looking for around a dozen, but you will also appreciate that this number may fluctuate.”
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