Police investigating a fatal explosion in Bedford have warned it will be a "significant amount of time" before search teams can begin looking for more bodies in the wreckage.
At least one person has died in the fire at Redwood Grove on Monday (4 July), and investigators say more fatalities could be discovered.
The damage caused by the explosion and subsequent fire means that search teams are unlikely to be able to enter the main block of flats affected for some time.
Chief Superintendent John Murphy, who is leading the Bedfordshire Police response to the explosion, said: “This is a hugely distressing and traumatic incident, and our thoughts remain with the friends and family of the person who has tragically lost their life.
“We still do not know the cause of the explosion. A number of lines of enquiry are taking place to help us establish that, and we are working closely with our colleagues from the fire service as part of our investigation.
"We are now entering a protracted stage of the investigation at a very complex scene where we will be conducting our enquiries as diligently and professionally as we can.
"It may take a significant amount of time before we can begin to search at the affected site, given the damage that has been caused and the risks that presents to our teams.
"Therefore, at this stage we cannot rule out the possibility of further fatalities being discovered.
"We know that residents of nearby properties want to get back into their homes as quickly as possible and we thank them for their continued support and patience while we continue to ensure the scene is safe.”
One fatality has been confirmed and, while they have not yet been formally identified, specialist officers are supporting the next of kin of the person who is believed to have died.
The emergency assistance centre remains open for today at the John Bunyan Centre in Bedford for anyone who needs help or support.An information centre at the Harpur Suite in Bedford town centre will be open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.
Trevor Gradwell Smith, from Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service continues to undertake a complex fire investigation at Redwood Grove and remain unable to make any conclusions as to the cause of the explosion at this stage."It has been confirmed there are no main gas supplies to the premises.
"We are working very closely and remain on the scene with Bedfordshire Police and other partner agencies such as the Urban Search and Rescue Team who are supporting us to reinforce the structural stability of the building."We are maintaining a response presence on scene over the next few days. In addition we will be in the area carrying out home fire safety 'Safe and Well' visits and will be available to give out fire safety advice."
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