Flags fly at half-mast as Islanders pay respects to St Helier blast victims

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FLAGS have been lowered across Jersey in mourning for at least five people who are confirmed to have died following this weekend’s suspected gas explosion, with four more feared missing.

The flags, including those at St Helier Harbour close to where the blast happened, will continue to fly at half-mast until sunset on December 23.

Islanders also observed a minute’s silence at 11am today.

Picture: ROB CURRIE. (34838132)

The States police gave an updated death toll on Sunday evening as specialist teams continued the recovery operation on Pier Road.

The force estimated that four more people are also likely to be recovered from the wreckage of the three-storey Haut du Mont residential block, which was destroyed in the blast at 4am on Saturday.

Commercial Buildings located close to the blast and Mount Bingham reopened on Monday, but a police cordon remains in place on Pier Road and South Hill.

Aaron Chown/PA Wire. (34846174)

Police chief Robin Smith told a press conference on Sunday that the search had moved to a ‘recovery stage’, which is likely to take ‘weeks’.

Mr Smith added it ‘looks likely’ that the blast was a gas explosion, but this has not been confirmed.

Chief Minister Kristina Moore told reporters that the wider community of Jersey has been ‘immensely shocked and saddened’ by the incident and the government had been ‘overwhelmed’ by their ‘offers of support’.

Aaron Chown/PA Wire. (34846176)

Chief fire officer Paul Brown confirmed that firefighters had been called to the building at 8.36pm on Friday and had carried out investigations after residents reported smelling gas – just hours before the blast.

Specialist teams from other parts of the UK, including the Isle of Wight and Hampshire, have been drafted in to aid the response.

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