- A gas leak is suspected as the cause of the blast which flattened a three-storey apartment block in Jersey.
- The explosion happen around 04:00 on Saturday.
- One person was killed and around a dozen” people are missing.
One person was killed and several others were missing after a “devastating” explosion Saturday flattened a three-storey apartment block in Jersey, authorities said.
A gas leak was suspected as the cause of the blast around 04:00 in the Channel island’s port capital, St Helier.
Security camera footage showed a fireball engulfing the bayside building followed by thick smoke, and nearby residents’ windows shook.
“My bedroom was shaken from the explosion with the windows rattling, which was all very unnerving,” said Daniel Hunt, a 19-year-old data administrator who lives across the bay.
Jersey’s gas supplier, Island Energy, said it was working with the fire service to understand what happened.
The fire was put out but emergency services were conducting “significant work” at the scene, and the rescue operation could take days, police said.
Fire crews mobilised after residents reported smelling gas, Jersey police chief Robin Smith told reporters.
“We have a three-storey building that has completely collapsed – described from a demolition point of view as a pancake that has dropped almost straight down,” he said.
“There is also damage to a nearby building as well, another block of flats that the fire service needs to make safe. It is a pretty devastating scene, I regret to say.”
Smith said “around a dozen” people were missing, “but you will appreciate also that number could fluctuate”.
“Specialist resources” have been mobilised to find anyone trapped in the rubble, according to the police, helped by an urban search-and-rescue team from southern England.
One person had died and two others were taken to hospital, Smith said, describing them as “walking wounded”.
Jersey’s chief minister Kristina Moore expressed condolences and said residents displaced by the blast were being found somewhere to stay.
“This is going to take some days and we will keep everyone updated and fully informed, and we will do our very best to ensure everybody is properly looked after,” she said.
The incident caps a tragic week for Jersey, a British Crown dependency not part of the United Kingdom, whose economy relies on banking, tourism and fishing.
The coastguard Friday abandoned a search for three Jersey fishermen missing for nearly 36 hours after their boat hit a freight ship and sank.
Skipper Michael Michieli and two crew members went missing early Thursday when their 18-metre wooden vessel collided with the Commodore Goodwill off Jersey.
Fellow fisherman William Jackson said his friend Michieli was “probably one of the most prominent fishermen on the island and in the community”.
“I was just shocked, absolutely shocked,” he told BBC Jersey.
The Commodore Goodwill is owned by Condor Ferries, whose Jersey offices lie near the destroyed apartment block.