Eight people now confirmed dead in Jersey flat block explosion

Eight people now confirmed dead in Jersey flat block explosion with one resident still unaccounted for, police say

  • Blast happened at around 4am on Saturday and destroyed a building in St Helier
  • Seven of the victims have been named at the Haut du Mont site on Pier Road
  • Islands Energy Group said the apartment block was not connected to mains gas

Eight people have now been confirmed dead in an explosion at a block of flats in Jersey with one person still missing, the island’s police chief said.

The blast, which happened at around 4am on Saturday, destroyed a building in St Helier, the Channel Island’s capital.

Seven of the victims have been named as Peter Bowler, 72, Raymond ‘Raymie’ Brown, 71, Romeu and Louise De Almeida, 67 and 64, Derek and Sylvia Ellis, 61 and 73, and 63-year-old Billy Marsden.

Jersey Police chief Robin Smith said: ‘I can confirm that, as at 10.30am today, Wednesday 14th December, one further fatality has been confirmed at the Haut du Mont site on Pier Road. 

Emergency workers at the site of the explosion that destroyed a block of flats in St Helier, Jersey

Police officers observe a minute of silence outside the States of Jersey Police headquarters on December 12

Derek and Sylvia Ellis

Romeu and Louise de Almeida

Billy Marsden

Ken and Jane Ralph

‘The number of islanders confirmed to have died in the blast is now eight. We estimate that there is still one resident that is unaccounted for.

‘As has been our process throughout, the families have been made aware of this announcement before the public and media and are being supported by our specially trained family liaison officers.

‘The fatalities have not yet been formally identified. The disaster victim identification (DVI) process must be carefully considered and managed in a dignified and compassionate way.

‘I am sure islanders will continue to join me in giving our thoughts to those victims, their families and friends, in what has been a tragic incident for our island and our community.

‘May I ask that the privacy of the families continues to be respected.’ 

The Viscount’s Office has confirmed that inquests will only be opened once the DVI process has been fully completed.

Emergency services were called to Haut du Mont flats (pictured before the incident) in St Helier just before 4am on Saturday

Emergency services were called to Haut du Mont flats in St Helier, the capital of Jersey – the largest of the Channel Islands

This CCTV grab shows the moment the explosion first went off in the early hours of the morning on December 10

A search and rescue operation was launched on Saturday (pictured) in an attempt to find people trapped in the rubble

Mr Smith said on Sunday that the ‘likely’ cause of the explosion was a gas leak – but Jo Cox, chief officer at Island Energy, said the flats affected were not connected to the gas network.

An independent investigation into the island’s fire service is continuing after it was found that officers had been called to the flats at 8.36pm on Friday, hours before the blast.

Paul Brown, head of Jersey Fire and Rescue Service, said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon: ‘It’s inappropriate for me to talk about anything else on Friday evening because the most appropriate place to do that is through the investigative process, because the only important thing here is the families.

‘Ordinarily we would investigate – we investigate hundreds of fires every year – but on this occasion we will commission independent investigators.

‘I think it’s important that everybody is absolutely assured about the openness and transparency and the relentless drive for the truth through facts, and that’s why I’m determined that there should be an independent view of the cause of the fire and explosion.

‘More practically, this is a large, complex event for a small service like ours. You can imagine all of our resources have been drawn into the response and so there is a resourcing issue there as well.’

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