Seven feared dead after Jersey explosion named by cops as four still missing

Seven people missing after the explosion at a block of flats in Jersey have been named by their distraught families.

Peter Bowler, 72, Raymond Brown, 71, Romeu de Almeida, 67, Louise de Almeida, 64, Derek Ellis, 61, Sylvia Ellis, 73, and Billy Marsden, 63, are feared dead or missing, States of Jersey Police said.

Four other people are still missing following the tragic explosion at the residential block in St Helier, on the largest of the Channel Islands in the English Channel, in the early hours of Saturday.

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The cause of the "almighty bang" is still being investigated but authorities think it is likely that a gas leak was responsible.

Yesterday night, Jersey Police Chief Robin Smith said the search and rescue operation was moved to a "recovery operation".

He added the search for bodies of people missing after the explosion "will take weeks, not days" and will be "meticulous and painstaking".

Firefighters and specialist rescue teams have been searching through the wreckage with police describing the scene as "utter devastation".

The identities of the other Islanders will be released at a later date, the force added.

It comes as Jersey's energy supplier announced it is carrying out safety testing of the entire island's gas supply.

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

According to the Jersey Evening Post, a statement on Monday afternoon from Ms Cox said: "Island Energy continues to work alongside the emergency services as they continue their recovery operation.

"The company will conduct its own investigation into what happened, as well as helping the various official inquiries.

"Our engineers are safety-testing the island's gas network, and this will be completed in the next few days. No issues have been detected in the survey so far."

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Residents on North Quay Parade, close to the site of the explosion, have begun returning to their homes after the police cordon was reduced.

Several buildings, including the homes of Andy Rawlinson, 54, and Steve McCherry, 60, have been damaged by the blast – with windows smashed and debris across their doorsteps.

Mr Rawlinson said he had been woken by the "almighty bang" of the explosion at 4am and he felt "traumatised" returning home, while Mr McCherry said the impact had thrown him from his bed.

A Jersey resident since 1979, Mr Rawlinson said: "It's scary, it's traumatic as well."

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