Police start fingertip search of Grenfell Tower rubble in hunt for ‘hidden victims’

Police have begun a fingertip search of Grenfell Tower to make sure there are “no hidden victims” of the disaster.

Search and recovery teams have scoured all 23 floors of the tower and work on recovering bodies was completed on Monday.

Specialist officers, supported by expert anthropologists, have now started fingertip searches of rooms buried in mounds of fire debris.

The scale of the task is reflected by estimates that there are 15.5 tonnes of debris on each floor of the building.


A distraught firefighter at the scene of the blaze (Jeremy Selwyn)

Commander Stuart Cundy, who is overseeing the Met’s response to the fire, said 250 investigators were now working on the investigation but admitted the work would not be complete until the end of 2017.

He said 21 people had now been formally identified by the coroner and their families informed. A total of 80 people are believed to be either dead or missing.

Commander Cundy said: “Work in Grenfell Tower continues, seven days a week. Specialist officers, supported by expert anthropologists, have started a search by hand of the devastation left behind by the fire. 

“This will involve us meticulously going through about 15.5 tonnes of debris on each floor to find those human remains that are still within the debris inside Grenfell Tower.

“I do not want there to be any hidden victims of this tragedy.  

“We continue our work to build as full a picture as possible of who was inside Grenfell Tower on the night and importantly, who lost their lives.“

He added: “At the very heart of our investigation, and all our work, are those who died in the fire and our efforts to support those who have been bereaved.   

“It is vitally important that families and loves ones are engaged and know what we are doing and why. 

“I completely understand their desire for answers and we are committed to providing as much information we can, as soon as we can.”

However, he repeated that, tragically, police may not be able to find or identify all those who lost their lives.

Detectives are continuing to appeal for information about who was in Grenfell Tower on the night of the fire.

Victims’ families and survivors yesterday had their first official meeting with Commander Cundy and Fiona Wilcox, the coroner tasked with identifying the dead.

Several people left the meeting because they were finding it so difficult.

Relatives were distressed to be told by the coroner that the recovery process could take months.

Anyone with information should call 0800 032 4539 or email Grenfell.investigation@met.police.uk.

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