LONDON (Reuters) -Jersey police said on Sunday the death toll from an explosion at an apartment building had risen to five, and that four people remained unaccounted for as emergency services indicated they were unlikely to find any more survivors.
The explosion early on Saturday morning at a block of flats on the island of Jersey, off the coast of northern France, completely destroyed the three-storey building in the island’s capital of St Helier.
“The number of Islanders confirmed to have been killed in the blast is now 5. There are a number of residents, we’re working on the assumption of 4, that are unaccounted for,” local police said on Twitter.
Jersey is a British Crown Dependency with a resident population of just over 100,000 people.
Fire services had been called to the property on Friday evening after residents had reported the smell of gas. The explosion occurred just before 0400 GMT on Saturday.
In a news conference on Sunday, emergency services said the search and rescue operation had moved to a recovery operation, indicating there was little hope of finding survivors.
Robin Smith, Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police, said the investigation would be independent and he would “rule nothing in and rule nothing out” when asked if he was treating the incident as a possible criminal matter.
He added that the recovery operation and the identification of bodies would take some time.
“We are not going to be here for days. We are likely to be here for weeks,” he told reporters.