58 missing and presumed dead in London apartment fire

by Leon Thompson June 19, 2017, 0:05

The remains of Grenfell Tower stand in London, Saturday, June 17, 2017.

A total of 58 people are presumed dead after the devastating fire in a London tower block, police chief Stuart Cundy told reporters yesterday.

UK Trade Minister Greg Hands said the government was carrying out an "urgent inspection" of the roughly 2500 similar tower blocks across Britain to assess their safety.

The 1974-built concrete tower had recently been fitted with new exterior insulation cladding, which many locals blame for spreading the inferno so quickly.

A catastrophic blaze at a London apartment tower has brought new scrutiny to a long-accepted, counterintuitive rule for people in tall buildings: If the blaze breaks out elsewhere in the structure, don't automatically run for the stairs.

Finance minister Philip Hammond said the inquiry would examine whether the regulations banning certain types of cladding were right and whether they were complied with. Hands cautioned that officials don't yet have exact details about the renovation that ended just a year ago.

The tragedy was a "preventable accident that didn't need to happen and the tragedy we're seeing is because of the consequences of mistakes and neglect from the politicians, the council and the government".

He said that number could change should further information come to light.

Earlier, the police launched a criminal inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire incident after it emerged that cladding, used on Grenfell Tower is banned in the United States, and that it would have cost just 5,000 pounds extra for the contractors to apply a fire-resistant version of panelling to the building, according to a report by the Independent.

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Cundy said police had started a criminal investigation but there was nothing to suggest "that the fire had been started deliberately". He has not provided details about the inquiry.

Any move away from the shelter in place tactic would put lives at risk, said Simon Lay, a fire safety expert and fellow at the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

Building regulations documents did not specifically say PE-core panels should not be used, but three industry experts interviewed by Reuters said that did not mean builders were clearly permitted to use them.

A minute's silence will be held at 11:00 am across Britain on Monday to remember the victims. Anger among residents has been mounting in recent days as information about the missing has been scanty and efforts to find temporary housing have faltered. At least 58 people are believed to have died in the blaze. She also says she will receive daily reports from the stricken neighbourhood.

"It is very hard to find the words to express how those families affected must be feeling, and it is our job to work tirelessly to provide them with the answers they so richly deserve".

Yesterday, the first victim of the fire was named as 23- year-old Syrian refugee Mohammed Alhajali.

The deaths in the horrific Grenfell Tower blaze here has risen to 30 and is expected to soar significantly as dozens of people remain missing, the Metropolitan Police said on Friday.

Officials are using dental records, fingerprints and DNA samples to try and positively identify victims.

Sixteen bodies have been taken to the mortuary after flames tore through the 1970s tower block - while 14 others have been recovered from the building.


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