Up to 15 feared dead in huge explosion as search turns into recovery operation

A suspected gas explosion in Jersey may have left up to 15 people dead after a block of flats collapsed and rescue teams desperately worked through the night.

At least three people are confirmed dead after the blast in St Helier, with dozens more missing and more fatalities expected.

Officials said the scene of Saturday's explosion is now being treated as a "recovery operation" rather than a search and rescue one.

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Temperatures plummeted overnight as efforts to find survivors continued after the eruption, The Mirror reported.

Yesterday, chief officer Robin Smith explained the "protracted incident" could "go on for days, maybe weeks". He also warned people should be prepared for "more fatalities".

Mr Smith said: "It is a scene of utter devastation. It has completely collapsed. The number one priority is working out if there's anyone alive in that debris."

Specialist rescue teams, including a dog, were pictured at the scene on Saturday night as they scrambled alongside firefighters to retrieve anybody trapped in the wreckage.

A Government spokesperson said: "We're on-site coordinating a methodical and meticulous multi-agency search effort.

"This involves a number of stages, including vacating the site for short periods to allow dogs to enter, and the careful movement of debris."

Paul Brown, Jersey Fire and Rescue Service's chief fire officer, added: "I can confirm the fire and rescue service did attend at 20.36 yesterday evening. I know that they did conduct an investigation but at the moment what I'm focused on is the emergency response.

"The plan is that we will continue searching and we have no other plan at this stage.

"We are just continuing to search and most of our efforts at the moment are about organisation and logistics of securing the right support at the right time, and making sure that the right equipment arrives in the right sequence."

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