Police have resumed digging at a former children's home on the Channel Island of Jersey as more witnesses come forward to allege they were abused and mistreated at the home.

Excavation started at the Haut de la Garenne site in St Martin in the east of the island last week, and the remains of a child were found by a sniffer dog at the weekend.

Digging was suspended yesterday as police consulted engineers about how to gain access to a bricked-up cellar at the site.

The search follows an investigation into claims of child abuse dating back 40 years, including in the 1970s and 1980s when the centre was a home for children with behavioural problems.

Police say they have been inundated with allegations from former residents of the home.

One woman, identified as Pamela, said she was given large quantities of valium and was repeatedly sexually abused.

She said she recalled constant building work in the cellar that police are trying to gain access to.

Robert Boutillier, a builder who worked on the refurbishment of the home four years ago, said workmen discovered a trapdoor leading down to a room without windows in which a single chair and shackles remained.

Officials in Jersey have denied the claims about the shackles.

But the island's former health and social services minister has claimed he was sacked from Jersey's governing council when he tried to expose 'systematic' abuse at the home.