Grenfell Tower fire: Number of dead expected to rise as investigation continues

ITV Report

15 June 2017 at 4:45am

At least 12 people have been confirmed killed but that number could rise Credit: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA

The death toll following a huge fire which engulfed and destroyed a large block of London flats is expected to rise.

Officials confirmed on Wednesday that at least 12 people were killed in the blaze but the Metropolitan Police warned that number could grow as people may still be missing inside the gutted Grenfell Tower in North Kensington.

Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan Police said: “This is going to be a long and complex recovery operation and I do anticipate that the number of fatalities will sadly increase beyond those 12.”

Investigators are still trawling through the wreckage in search of other victims after the night-time inferno ripped through more than half of the 24-storey building in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) said it had “absolutely no idea” how many individuals remain unaccounted for.

The search for more victims is still ongoing Credit: Rick Findler/PA

Flames could still be seen burning in the tower block almost 24 hours after the blaze started and more than 70 people were taken to six hospitals for treatment following the fire, 18 of whom are in critical care.

According to the council 44 households affected by the fire had to be put in emergency accommodation – including families with young children, elderly residents and those who are vulnerable, all of whom were given “immediate priority”.

Scores more people unable to return to their homes were offered a place to stay at Westway Sports Centre in Crowthorne Road, north Kensington, where Londoners were volunteering to help and providing much needed donations.

Londoners have been rallying round to help those who lost everything in the fire Credit: PA

Eyewitnesses who saw the fire said they saw people trapped inside their homes, screaming for help and jumping from windows, whiledesperate women threw their children to safety.

One witness saw a resident throw a baby from “the ninth or 10th floor” into the arms of a member of the public below.

Another local resident, Joanna O’Connor, said she awoke to screams and sirens.

She said: “At about 2am (I was) woken up by screaming, sirens and helicopters. We came outside and were confronted with the building that was completely engulfed in flames.

“It was a real shock and there were hundreds of people lining the streets, we could still hear screaming from the building and people were milling around in shock crying.”

Forty fire trucks supported by 250 firefighters responded to the blaze, which began shortly before 1am.

Described by the fire brigade as “unprecedented in terms of scale, speed and spread” the blaze quickly engulfed the building in smoke and flames.

Questions are now being asked about how the fire spread through the tower block so quickly despite the UK’s stringent fire safety regulations, and this is expected to be a key issue in the subsequent investigation into the tragedy.

In the wake of the fire local residents claimed they had raised concerns about fire safety at Grenfell Tower for months ahead of the blaze but the construction firm behind recent refurbishments at the tower block said they had’met all required standards’.

Is the cause of the fire known?

The cause of the blaze is currently unknown, though reports suggested a “faulty fridge” may have sparked the blaze.

London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton said crews had only managed to reach the 19th or 20th floors of the 24-storey block, as London Mayor Sadiq Khan said questions need to be answeredover why they couldn’t reach the top.

What is the government’s response?

Prime Minister Theresa May said a “proper investigation” will be held into the cause of the “terrible” and “tragic” fire.

Mrs May, who held a cross-Government meeting to coordinate a response, said it was “impossible to comprehend the horror” that residents had endured and hailed the efforts of the emergency services in their “harrowing work”.

The PM also praised the community response to the blaze and said “if there are any lessons to be learnt they will be, and action will be taken.”

Policing and Fire Minister Nick Hurd earlier confirmed emergency checks are to be carried out on tower blocks going through similar refurbishment.

What is the emergency number to call for those concerned?

The Met has set up a casualty bureau for anyone concerned about friends and family, which people can contact on 0800 0961 233.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged all others to follow the London Fire Brigade’s Twitter feed for updates.

Last updated Thu 15 Jun 2017

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