London tower fire: 58 people missing presumed dead, say police

Elias Hubbard
June 19, 2017

Grenfell Tower in west London after a fire engulfed the 24-storey building on Wednesday morning, Saturday, June 17, 2017.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May has been criticized for her slowness in visiting the victims of the fire - her visits took place more than 48 hours after the fire broke out - and refusal to answer questions about government oversights that might have increased the deadly nature of the blaze.

He called the fire a "preventable accident", acknowledging the anger and frustration of displaced residents of the working-class enclave in one of Britain's wealthiest districts.

He added: "People in this community are sick to death of platitudes from politicians". Officials warn that no further survivors are likely to be found.

More than 70 people reportedly remain unaccounted for and the area surrounding the tower has been plastered by distraught relatives with pictures of the missing, from grandparents to young children.

Queen Elizabeth and her grandson Prince William visited a community centre Friday where some of the survivors are being housed, and where volunteers have been inundated with donations of clothes and food.

She stood for a minute's silence at the start of her birthday parade on Saturday.

The queen said it was "difficult to escape a very somber mood" on what is normally a day of celebration.

The response to the fire from the government and local council was "mired in confusion and hesitancy", he added - London should have acted more quickly, and Kensington and Chelsea Council should have sought help immediately.

Condoling the incident earlier, Londor Mayor Sadiq Khan said, "The bad news, I'm afraid, is lots of people died in the fire".

But besides the drive to help survivors, the sense of anger was palpable on the streets.

May has come in for a barrage of criticism over her response to the disaster, including being jeered when she visited the North Kensington estate on Friday.

The government has set up a £5 million emergency fund for the Grenfell Tower residents, allocating a minimum £5,500 to each household with £500 cash payments already being handed out.

With blackened rubble strewn across the floor and exposed pipes, one room is unrecognisable as a home until a bath and sink come into view - the dividing wall destroyed completely by the fire.

Protesters marched to the edge of the police cordon around the tower, shouting "no justice, no peace", where a few young men tried unsuccessfully to break through.

"The Prime Minister is distraught about what has happened", said Green, who was appointed May's deputy in the wake of the general election.

"Sadly, at this time there are 58 people who we have been told were in the Grenfell Tower on the night that are missing". Community groups have said that warnings about poor fire safety have always been ignored, and that in the aftermath of the disaster, officials failed to immediately take care of those affected.

Greg Hands told Sky News that "my understanding is that the cladding that was reported was not in accordance with United Kingdom building regulations".

Residents were forced to flee down the central staircase with many being left behind in the chaos.

The first victim formerly identified to the public is 23-year-old Syrian refugee Mohammad Alhajali.

Prior to the meeting with victims, other residents of the block and volunteer workers, she chaired a meeting of a government task force on the disaster. Sixteen bodies have been taken to a mortuary for examination.

Pope Francis sent a message of "heartfelt condolences", in which he invoked God's blessings of "strength and peace" on the local community.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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