Police have named seven people who are missing after an explosion and fire in a block of flats in Jersey.
They are: Peter Bowler, 72, Raymond (Raymie) Brown, 71, Romeu and Louise De Almeida, 67 and 64, Derek and Sylvia Ellis, 61 and 73, and Billy Marsden, 63.
Five people have been confirmed dead after the explosion in the three-storey Haut du Mont block in the island’s capital on Saturday.
The cause of the explosion is still under investigation.
The seven now named are among around a dozen people who are still believed to be missing.
The force added that the identities of the other victims will be released at a later date.
The search for bodies “will take weeks, not days” and will be “frugal and painstaking”, police said on Sunday, adding that emergency services were no longer looking for survivors.
When asked if those missing had died, Chief Constable Robin Smith said: “We have now entered the recovery phase [of the operation]. So inevitably and tragically and sadly it is the case.”
He said that while the search for debris from the blast would not be “swift”, it would be both “careful and sensitive”.
Firefighters, specialist rescue teams and dogs have searched through the wreckage of the block of flats, which was destroyed in the explosion at 04:00 on Saturday.
Police have described the scene on Pier Road as “complete devastation”. Around 40 people are accommodated in alternative accommodation after the explosion.
Family liaison officers are currently working with the families of those affected by the blast, and although authorities say they are in contact with all relatives, the victims have not yet been publicly identified.
Something had gone “horribly wrong”
Jersey’s fire chief Paul Brown acknowledged that something had gone “horribly wrong” and his service will “co-operate fully” with investigations into the cause of the explosion.
Brown confirmed that the service was called to the building at around 8.30pm on Friday night and had carried out investigations after residents reported smelling gas. The explosion took place around seven and a half hours later.
An urgent check of Jersey’s gas network is also being carried out.
Island Energy – which supplies gas to the Channel Islands – said in a statement that engineers would continue tests over the next few days.
Island Energy Group chief executive Jo Cox said: “Island Energy continues to work alongside the emergency services as they continue their recovery operation. The company will carry out its own investigation into what happened as well as assist the various official inquiries.
“Our engineers are safety testing the island’s gas network and this will be completed over the next few days. No issues have been identified in the investigation so far.”
It is the second tragedy in Jersey in recent days, after one skipper and two crew members were killed last week when their fishing boat collided with a freighter.