Jersey blast that killed 3, left a dozen missing now a recovery operation

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Search and rescue operations have moved to recovery operations at the apartment building that exploded and collapsed at the British Channel island of Jersey, local officials said Sunday.

At least three people were killed and a dozen are missing after the explosion and fire on Saturday, the island’s Chief Minister Kristina Moore said.

Authorities are now trying to identify bodies “when and if” they find them, Chief of Police Robin Smith said in a news conference Sunday.

Chief Fire Officer Paul Brown said the death toll remains unchanged with three confirmed fatalities, but authorities expect “to find more [bodies].”

Brown also said the causes of the explosion are still under investigation, saying “something has clearly gone wrong because a building has exploded and collapsed,” without sharing any further details.

Ten firefighters, half of the island’s contingent, continue to work at the scene.

Police had previously declined to speculate on the cause but residents had reported the smell of gas the night before the blast. The situation has not been designated as a terrorist incident, although authorities are investigating all avenues.

Local police were alerted to the incident just before 4 a.m. local time, Robin Smith, chief officer of the States of Jersey Police, said, adding emergency services then responded to the scene and extinguished the fire.

The three-story building “completely collapsed,” Smith confirmed, describing the situation as a “devastating scene.”

He said a number of flats had been evacuated, adding that between 20 and 30 people had been taken to a nearby town hall for shelter.

Jersey is an island territory off the northwest coast of France, which is a possession of the British Crown, but not part of the United Kingdom itself.

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