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WATCH: At least three dead and search for the missing continues in Pier Road tragedy

WATCH: At least three dead and search for the missing continues in Pier Road tragedy

Saturday 10 December 2022

WATCH: At least three dead and search for the missing continues in Pier Road tragedy

Saturday 10 December 2022

Specialist search teams will continue hunting through the rubble tonight where a block of flats in St. Helier once stood, in what has been described as a scene of "utter devastation."

At least three people are now confirmed to have died, and more remain missing, following the major explosion on Pier Road in the early hours of this morning.

The three-storey Haut du Mont building collapsed shortly before 04:00 - hours after some people in the area reported smelling gas to the Fire Service.

"Teams will be working tonight, all night"

Five urban search and rescue experts from Hampshire and the Isle of Wight were flown in this afternoon, and a further group arrived later this evening. Two specialist search dogs are also on site.

At a press conference this afternoon, Fire Chief Paul Brown confirmed that "the area is being lit and teams will be working tonight, all night, and we will not stop."

A "scene of tragedy"

Police Chief Robin Smith, who visited the Haut du Mont site with Ambulance Chief Peter Gavey this afternoon, said it was a "scene of tragedy and complete devastation".

Robin Smith Explosion

Pictured: Police Chief Robin Smith said it was a "scene of complete devastation".

He said the flats were "completely collapsed" and that the area "doesn't even look like a building was [there]."

Mr Brown said there was a "very large pile of debris that is therefore ill-structured and not safe."

A cordon is still in place around a large part of St. Helier, which Mr Smith said was "about keeping people safe."

It is expected to remain in place tomorrow.

Officers investigated gas leak reports

He said it was too early to speculate on the exact cause of the explosion, but said there were a "number of hypotheses".

pier road

Pictured: The Police Chief described the scene where the Haut du Mont flats once stood as one of "utter devastation".

Fire Chief Paul Brown confirmed that his team received a call at 20:36 last night relating to concerns about a smell of gas in the area and that a number of fire officers "did conduct investigations".

He declined to provide more detail, saying that "at the moment we are just focusing on the response to the crisis that we have now."

Detective appointed to investigate

Police Chief Robin Smith said that there would be a fuller investigation into what happened and that a senior detective had already been "deployed to investigate".

"It may be a criminal investigation, it may be a joint investigation," he said.

Mr Brown said the emergency services had been "in dialogue with utility companies throughout the day."

"At least three" dead

Since the update this morning when one fatality was announced, two more people have been confirmed to have died. 

Ambulance Chief Peter Gavey said that two "walking wounded" had received treatment in hospital but had "been released since" and that there is one other person receiving treatment, but "nothing serious as I understand it."

Mr Smith said that up to 12 people were initially thought to be missing.

Justice Secretary shares support

News of the tragedy has rocked the island, and the impact has also been felt further afield.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted his support for the island this afternoon, saying he was "deeply saddened" by what had happened. He commended the work of the emergency services.

The Isle of Man's Chief Minister also shared a message of hope, while, closer to home, Guernsey's Chief Minister and the island's Christian faith community have also pledged their support.

Alderney's Chief Minister also sent a message of solidarity to Jersey's Chief Minister.

"We must now all call on our collective strength"

This evening, Chief Minister Kristina Moore paid tribute to the community response since news of the tragedy broke this morning and called on islanders to take a "quiet moment" this evening to reflect on both the Pier Road and fishing boat tragedy earlier this week.

Kristina Explosion

Pictured: Kristina Moore suggested that islanders take a "quiet moment" to reflect on the tragedies that have rocked the island this week.

"We must now all call on our collective strength as an island community to come together and support all of those who are affected in this dark time," she said.

Following the conference, Andium Homes issued a statement saying their “thoughts and prayers” were with all affected by the tragedy.

“Throughout the day colleagues at Andium Homes have been supporting residents to ensure that all those that have needed short term accommodation, and other support have had it and continue to have it,” it read.

Accommodation offered

"All the residents evacuated by the emergency services have now been offered alternative accommodation that is safe and warm and they will be offered ongoing support and practical help from us over the coming days.”

The social housing provider said it had been "overwhelmed with all of the offers of support from individuals and businesses", adding: "We will continue to help coordinate that support as much as we can."

The statement continued: "Our sincere thanks must go out to the Emergency Services for their sterling work, we will continue to support them with their efforts in making the site safe and investigating the cause of the incident. 

"Anyone affected by the incident who needs information or support should contact the support helpline set up by Government 0800 735 5566."

Follow Express for updates...


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