British PM May faces mounting criticism over London tower block blaze

by Garry Watts June 19, 2017, 0:04

Grief turned to outrage Friday over a deadly high-rise tower fire in London amid reports that materials used in the building's renovation could have fueled the inferno that left dozens dead and missing as it decimated the public housing block.

Following the meeting, Mrs May released a strongly-worded statement in which she said on-the-ground support for families in the immediate aftermath of the blaze "was not good enough".

British Prime Minister Theresa May was rushed away under heavy police guard on Friday (June 16) as protesters shouted "Shame on you" after she met residents who live near a tower block in London where at least 30 people died in a fire. Speaking after a church service near the charred remains of the building, Khan said, "It may well be the defining outcome of this tragedy that the worst mistakes of the 1960s and 1970s are systematically torn down".

Speaking on Friday evening, Mrs May said: "Everyone affected by this tragedy needs reassurance that the Government is there for them at this awful time - and that is what I am determined to provide".

Queen Elizabeth, 91, and her grandson Prince William also visited residents and emergency workers on Friday.

Police and firefighters have now reached the top of the tower in their search.

The Catholic bishops of Westminster offered their prayers and local parishes opened their doors to offer aid and supplies to those affected by a massive fire at an apartment complex in west London on Wednesday. Police had previously put the death toll at 30. Forensic experts said the fire at Grenfell was so hot that could be compared to a cremation - a development that's going to make it hard to identify all the victims.

Addressing the British people on her official birthday, Queen Elizabeth wrote of a "very sombre national mood" following a "succession of bad tragedies" that have befallen the British people over the last number of months.

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May was asked repeatedly in an interview on Friday whether she had misread the public mood.

Protesters gathered to call for help for the residents of the burned building, and the BBC reports that dozens of people "stormed Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall with a list of demands".

"It is hard to escape a very sombre national mood", Elizabeth said in a message on her official birthday.

Frustration has been mounting in recent days as information about those still missing in the blaze has been scanty and efforts to find temporary housing for the hundreds of now-homeless tower residents have faltered. British officials have ordered a review of other buildings that have had similar renovations.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds have already been raised online for the victims, while local community centres were inundated by donations of clothes and food. The British government has announced a 5 million-pound ($6.3 million) emergency fund for the victims. Numerous displaced are living in churches and community centers.

Two nearby Underground subway lines were partially shut down Saturday in the fire area to make sure that debris from the tower did not land on the tracks.

Some Grenfell residents had warned months ago that fire safety issues at the tower left it at risk of a "catastrophic" event.

"They are simply not recognisable because of the fire", Fiona McCormack, from the Metropolitan Police's identification team, said of the victims found inside Grenfell Tower.


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