At least three people have died and a dozen are missing after an explosion and fire at an apartment building in the British Channel island of Jersey, the island’s Chief Minister Kristina Moore said Saturday.
Police 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 has “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.
A search and rescue operation for those unaccounted for has commenced, Smith added.
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.