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'Our Community Is Behind You'

The Bailiff has addressed the relatives of the 13 victims of last December's two fatal disasters at a memorial service.

Addressing those gathered at the Town Church for the anniversary commemoration, Sir Tim Le Cocq spoke of the pain felt by loved ones and the wider community.

He described the service as an opportunity to show solidarity with friends, neighbours and fellow islanders who were hit by the sinking of the L'Ecume II and the Haut Du Mont explosion.

"This evening we are all here for different reasons – a son, daughter, a family member, an emergency responder, an old friend, an islander.

By coming together, we remember those tragically lost and those deeply affected by the events of 2022.

Even after a year.... The loss of family members and friends may continue to be a struggle, especially as we get closer to Christmas, which is for many, a time to spend together with family.

For those who have lost, we are deeply sorry that you are suffering this pain."

Jervis Baligat (31), Michael Michieli (62), Lary Simyun (33), Raymond (Raymie) Brown (71), Romeu De Almeida and Louise De Almeida (67 & 64), Kathy McGuinness (73), Derek Ellis and Sylvia Ellis (aged 61 & 73), Billy Marsden (63), Ken Ralph and Jane Ralph (aged 72 & 71) and Peter Bowler (72).

On 8 December 2022, the island was shocked by a collision at sea between a fishing trawler and the Commodore Goodwill freight ship.

The fishing community and emergency services immediately took to the water off St Ouen's Bay to help find the three fishermen who were onboard the vessel - Michael Michieli, Larry Simyun and Jervis Baligat.

"By long tradition, we are a people of the sea and our fishing community suffered an incredible sense of loss with the sinking of the L’Ecume II on the 8th December, with Skipper and crew.

At the time of the incident, our island fleet went in search of Skipper Michael 'Mick' Michieli and his crew, Larry Simyun and Jervis Baligat, without hesitation, a testament to the closeness of this small and resilient group."

Less than 48 hours later, islanders were hit with the news there had been an explosion at a block of flats on Pier Road, with the emergency services working to recover the victims and help the injured.

It was later revealed all nine of the missing residents at Haut Du Mont had died in the explosion, with Kathy McGuinness passing away in hospital on Christmas day.

"Days later the residents of Haut du Mont would very shortly suffer a catastrophic life-changing event.

The report of the explosion in the early hours of 10 December shocked us all. Unexpected. Without warning.

The explosion took hold of us all and we came together to do what we do best and look after one another."

"These two incidents were, of course, very different events but they were close together in time and it seems to me to be entirely appropriate that we come together on this single act of commemoration and stand as an island community to remember the victims who lost their lives on both land and at sea."

"I hope you find some comfort in knowing that this island, our community is behind you, to support you at this difficult time."

A minute's silence will be observed at noon today (Friday) for the victims of the L'Ecume II sinking and another at noon on Sunday in memory of those lost in the Haut du Mont disaster.

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