LONDON (AP) — Rescuers said Sunday they were likely to find more victims after a fire broke out on a Channel island, after confirming three people were dead.
A dozen people are still missing after the event in St. Helier, the capital of the island of Jersey in the English Channel.
Robin Smith, the local police chief, said rescue crews are still digging through the ruins and investigations are likely to take several more weeks.
The three-story building suffered a fire at about 4 am Saturday. Smith said it was most likely caused by gas, but that hasn’t been confirmed.
He added that firefighters were called to the scene the night before because several neighbors reported smelling gas. Police, he said, will investigate whether there was a gas leak.
Authorities on Sunday said the mission will switch from search to recovery and they don’t expect to find anyone else alive.
“We have moved into the recovery stage, it is time to think about families,” Smith said.
In relation to the 12 people who are still missing, Smith observed that “it is a very sensitive issue and it is difficult to give exact information.”
“The exact information that I can give is that there were three confirmed fatalities and it is worth saying that we hope to find more,” he said.
“We have previously said that there are a dozen or so missing people, but it is difficult to give an exact number. We hope that it will not reach that figure, but that is the hypothesis that we are handling, ”he added.
Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, is a self-governing dependency of the United Kingdom, located off the coast of northern France.
The Island Energy gas company announced that it is cooperating with the fire service “to understand what exactly happened.”