Sunday, 17 December, 2017

79 now believed to have died in London high-rise fire

Melinda Barton | 20 June, 2017, 02:23

A resident in a nearby building watches smoke rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017.

The death toll from a fire that ravaged a London tower block last week has risen to 79, police said on Monday, as the government tried to show it was improving its handling of a tragedy that has angered the public.

Commander Cundy said: "Work has been ongoing throughout the night and continues today, so we can get as good an understanding as possible about who we believe to be still missing".

Police had earlier put the toll at 58 presumed dead.

"It is really important that we are clear about the scale of the challenge facing us as our teams search Grenfell Tower to recover those people still inside and return them to their loved ones".

There are scenes of utter destruction inside Grenfell Tower following a major fire that.

"Remember those who've lost their lives in a preventable accident that didn't need to happen and the tragedy we're seeing is because of the effect of mistakes and neglect from politicians, from the council and from the government", Khan added.

Hundreds have been left homeless by the blaze, putting more pressure on officials in a city already plagued by a chronic housing shortage. The public is also demanding answers about how the blaze spread so quickly amid reports that the recently-renovated building's exterior paneling fueled the flames.

As NPR's Merrit Kennedy reported, the Grenfell Tower fire has aroused the ire of those who feel it was caused by corporate malfeasance and who feel Prime Minister Theresa May's government is not doing enough to respond. "And therefore, sadly, I have to assume that they are dead", he said.

Cundy promised an "exhaustive" criminal investigation into the fire that would also look at a major refurbishment of the building completed previous year.

"I would like to reassure everybody that we will be looking at all criminal offenses that may have been committed by any individual or any organization", said Cundy. Cundy said emergency workers have now reached the top of the building. The British government has announced a 5 million-pound ($6.3 million) emergency fund for the victims.

During a speech after attending a service for victims, Khan said the community affected by the fire is resilient but also frustrated and angry.

"During recent visits in Manchester and London, I have been profoundly struck by the immediate inclination of people throughout the country to offer comfort and support to those in desperate need", the queen said in a statement.

The queen and Philip stood silently before the start of the annual Trooping the Color procession that marks the queen's official birthday.

British health authorities say they are still treating 19 patients, 10 of whom remain in critical condition after the London high-rise fire.

The government has promised a public inquiry, and police have opened a criminal investigation.

Scuffles broke out near the Kensington and Chelsea town hall offices Friday as demonstrators chanting "We want justice!" surged toward the doors.

The fire has prompted warnings about fire safety risks in many other council tower blocks built in the same era.