58 people in London apartment are missing and presumed dead in fire

20 June, 2017, 11:59 | Author: Benny Bass

London Police Commander Stuart Cundy said the toll of 58 represented those who were missing and presumed dead from a fire which ripped through the 24-story social housing block as residents slept in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Trade Minister Greg Hands said the government is carrying out an "urgent inspection" of the roughly 2,500 similar tower blocks across Britain to assess their safety, while an opposition lawmaker urged the government to quickly secure documents in the Grenfell renovation for the criminal probe. Hands cautioned that officials don't yet have exact details about the renovation that ended just a year ago.

British media have reported that contractors installed a cheaper, less flame-resistant type of exterior paneling on the 24-story tower in a renovation that was completed just past year.

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Aluminum cladding with insulation sandwiched between two panels has been blamed for helping to spread flames in major fires in many parts of the world, including blazes in the Middle East, Europe, Asia and the United States. Grief over a London high-rise tower fire that killed dozens turned to outrage Friday amid reports that the materials used in a recent renovation of the public housing block may have fueled the inferno.

Shortly after Saturday's meeting, Downing Street released a strongly-worded statement in which the Prime Minister said support in the immediate aftermath of the fire "was not good enough".

He said all records - including emails, minutes of meetings, correspondence with contractors, safety assessments, specifications and reports - must be kept intact.

It said: "We are devastated by this tragedy".

He complained bitterly that a friend - the young artist Khadija Saye - was still alive three hours after the fire started but was unable to get out of her apartment to safety.

Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan Police said that 16 bodies had been recovered from the 24-storey building in west London, but stressed that although investigators had reached the top of the tower the hard search could take weeks or longer because of the level of damage to the structure. He has not provided details about the inquiry.

"The response of the emergency services, National Health Service, and the community has been heroic", May said in a statement. They say their complaints were ignored - and fear it was because the tower was full of poor people in a predominantly wealthy borough.

British officials have announced a nationwide minute of silence to honor the victims on Monday morning.

"The figure of 58 are those who are missing and that we have to presume are dead", said Cundy. Those who lost their homes will be rehoused within three weeks, she said.One of her closest allies, Damian Green, defended May today, adding that a team would go to the area to answer questions from residents."The Prime Minister is distraught about what has happened", said Green, who was appointed May's deputy in the wake of the general election."We're all desperately sad, we're all angry, but of course none of us as angry as those who were directly affected".

May said she expected to announce the name of the judge for a public inquiry within a few days.

His family said in a statement that Alhajali "came to the United Kingdom because he had ambitions and aims for his life and for his family".

He said five of the dead had been formally identified, and it would be a slow and painstaking task to identify the others because of the intensity of the fire. Sixteen bodies have been taken to a mortuary for examination.

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