AT least three people were killed in this morning’s explosion in St Helier and about a dozen more are missing, it has been confirmed.
The three-story Haut du Mont flats on Pier Road was completely destroyed in the blast, which was heard across the Island at about 4am.
Flames and a huge plume of smoke could be seen billowing from the property.
The blast was so powerful it was picked up on the British Geological Survey’s earthquake monitors.
Thoughts are with all those affected by this morning’s explosion in St Helier, which was powerful enough to be picked up on British Geological Survey’s earthquake monitors.— Consumer Carl (@CarlWalker7) December 10, 2022
It’s now time for Jersey’s community to respond like never before. pic.twitter.com/GLOSNtT12d
In a press conference on Saturday afternoon led by Chief Minister Kristina Moore and the heads of the three emergency services, police chief Robin Smith described the site as ‘a scene of utter devastation and a scene of tragedy’.
He confirmed that searches would continue throughout the night. Specialist search teams have arrived from the UK and more are expected to arrive on Saturday evening. Specially trained dogs are also involved in the search.
Earlier he told reporters: ‘As I’m sure you will understand, the scene is a very dangerous one for all of our staff as well.
‘We’re using specialist resources to start to see if we can see anybody trapped in the rubble.’
Twenty-one police officers, nine paramedics and 19 firefighters have attended the scene.
It has been confirmed that firefighters were called out at about 8.30pm on Friday – many hours before the blast – after residents reported smelling gas. Fire chief Paul Brown confirmed that firefighters ‘conducted investigations’ but declined to make further comment, saying he was instead focusing on the emergency operation.
Family liaison officers have been assisting those who were evacuated and taken to the Town Hall, as well as the loved ones of those dead or missing.
Pictures taken at first light on Saturday show how the building was destroyed in the blast.
Islanders are being asked not to attend the Emergency Department today unless it is essential. Fort Regent is also closed.
A support line for people wanting information on family members has been set up on 0800 7355566 or 01534 445566.
Islanders are asked not to go to the Emergency Department today unless absolutely necessary. This is due to the ongoing response following the incident at Pier Road earlier this morning. If you require non-urgent out of hours treatment contact the out of hours GP: (01534) 445445.— Jersey Gov Health & Community Services (@GovJsyHCS) December 10, 2022
Jersey Channel islands explosion pic.twitter.com/KqEUDtyqTo— Daniel Hunt (@just_daniel1411) December 10, 2022
Mr Smith warned that the number of fatalities was likely to rise.
Housing Minister David Warr issued an appeal for accommodation for those for those evacuated.
Above: A Google Street View of the area
Many Islanders took to social media this morning saying they had been woken by the blast.
Writing on Facebook, one resident said: ‘I’ve got the roof debris and lots of insulation in my garden and thought my house had exploded when it shook.’
Another added: ‘Haut du Mont residents evacuated to Town Hall. Not allowed back. Flats blown out and cars on fire.’
There has been a major explosion on Pier road in one of the @Andiumhomes flats. Emergency services are on-site and town hall is taking in walking wounded. Thoughts with those families affected at this time. We will need temp accommodation. Please get in touch if you can help.— David Warr (@WarrOnWords) December 10, 2022
Jersey’s Bailiff, Sir Timothy Le Cocq, who visited the Town Hall, told how he was woken by the blast.
‘I like many Islanders woke up to the shocking news of the explosion. In fact, I did hear it and thought it was the beginning of a thunderstorm.
‘Since then I have been following the news carefully and wanted to come into the Town Hall. It’s been a most amazing effort, as I’m sure you’ve seen – everyone has been looked after in terms of medical attention if necessary, pastoral care if necessary, and food, drink, clothing has been provided, and relocation has been sorted out.
‘Andium Homes is working incredibly hard to provide for the relocation. So, all in all, it’s a marvelous response to a tragic set of circumstances and we’re still waiting to hear about the final people affected.’
Monday’s JEP includes a special report on the weekend’s devastating events. You can subscribe here subscribe.jerseyeveningpost.com