Families name seven victims all aged in their 60s and 70s

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

The victims, all aged in their 60s and 70s including two couples, are the first to be identified since the incident at the Haut du Mont building in St Helier on Saturday.

They are Peter Bowler (72), Raymond (Raymie) Brown (71), Romeu and Louise De Almeida, 67 and 64 years, Derek and Sylvia Ellis, 61 and 73 years and 63-year-old Billy Marsden.

Peter Bowler who has been named as one of the islanders missing in an explosion and fire at a block of flats (Jersey Police/PA)

A States of Jersey Police spokeswoman said: “The families of seven Islanders missing since the incident at the Haut du Mont site on Pier Road, have released their identities.

“The families, supported by officers within the Family Liaison Team, made the decision this afternoon as the recovery operation continues.

“The identities of the other Islanders will be released at a later date.”

Raymond (Raymie) Brown (Jersey Police/PA)

The police force has previously said that five people were confirmed dead in the incident with an “assumption” that four people remain unaccounted for.

Meanwhile residents living nearby have started to return to their homes after the cordon around the site was reduced on Monday.

The cause of the explosion, which happened in the early hours of Saturday morning, is still under investigation.

Romeu and Louise De Almeida (Jersey Police/PA)

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

Jersey Police chief Robin Smith said on Sunday that 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.

Ms Cox said: “Along with my colleagues at Island Energy, I join everyone in Jersey in offering our prayers and thoughts to families who have lost loved ones at this tragic time.

“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 enquiries.

“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.

“As is always the case if anyone smells gas, Island Energy has a dedicated emergency number which you should call immediately: 755555.”

Derek and Sylvia Ellis (Jersey Police/PA)

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 told the PA news agency 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.

“It’s horrible being a few hundred yards away from where people are dying and there’s not a thing you can do.

“People have lost their lives so close to Christmas, it’s so so sad. I’ve never seen anything like that here. It’s devastating.”

Billy Marsden (Jersey Police)

During an address to Jersey’s State Assembly, Chief Minister Kristina Moore said: “One tragic incident is enough to shake a small community.

“To have a second within a matter of days is not something we have ever experienced.

“The devastating explosion at Haut du Mont has shocked everyone in the Island and around the world.

“I’m sure Members will have seen the footage, which makes for painful viewing, and is unprecedented for Jersey in modern times.

“Put simply, most of us will have never seen anything like it.”

Flowers left near to the scene of an explosion and fire at a block of flats in St Helier (Aaron Chown/PA)

Andium Homes, which operates the 36 homes at Haut du Mont, which was built between 1987 and 1990, has said that no gas is used at the site and it had not received any reports of gas leaks or smell prior to the incident.

Chief executive Ian Gallichan said in a statement: “To confirm what Island Energy have already said, Andium Homes and our tenants are not consumers of gas at Haut du Mont.

“We have received no reports of leaks or smells of gas the day before the incident or at any other time. Andium Homes has not been carrying out any significant maintenance works at Haut du Mont.

“We recognise that incidents like this affect a wider group of people and we have also been out visiting other Andium Homes residents in the immediate area to check that they are ok and to offer support and reassurance where necessary.

“We will continue to do all that is necessary to support our residents.”

He said that 42 residents had been relocated from the site either staying with family friends or in alternative accommodation provided by Andium.

He added: “The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Andium Homes are with those who lost their lives during the devastating incident at Haut du Mont on Saturday morning, their families and loved ones. No words are adequate to reflect the complete devastation they must be feeling at this time.


Creeslough explosion investigators travel to Engla…

“Throughout all of Saturday and Sunday, my colleagues at Andium Homes have been supporting the residents who were rendered homeless as a result of the incident.

“It is with significant pride that I can say that within just a few hours of the incident, we had been able to provide food, clothing and money to residents and each was offered alternative fully furnished accommodation.

“That support to residents continued throughout the weekend and again today. We are now working together with government to make sure that everyone is taken care of and that they have access to all the support that they need from the various specialist agencies going forwards.”

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