At least 30 people have been confirmed killed and dozens more are feared dead in the London tower block fire, police said on Friday, as firefighters continued searching for bodies amid outrage over the use of cladding blamed for spreading the flames.
“We know that at least 30 people have died as a result of this fire. I do believe the number will increase,” police commander Stuart Cundy told reporters in front of the charred Grenfell Tower.
Cundy said police had started a criminal investigation but there was nothing to suggest “that the fire had been started deliberately”.
He also said the last flames had finally been put out, two days after the fire broke out in the night between Tuesday and Wednesday in the 24-storey tower in a working-class enclave of the wealthy London borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
More than 70 people are unaccounted for, according to media reports, although it was not known whether some of those were among the bodies recovered so far.
Police have warned some of the victims may never be identified because of the state of the remains.
Cundy said one of the victims was a person who died in hospital. Twenty-four injured survivors are still being treated, 12 of them in critical care.
Firefighters were using drones and sniffer dogs to search the building, saying that some of the upper floors are still inaccessible to humans because of concerns about the stability of the structure.
Queen visits survivors
The area surrounding the council-owned tower has been plastered by desperate relatives with pictures of the missing, from grandparents to young children, and large numbers of volunteers were assisting survivors.
Queen Elizabeth II and her grandson Prince William visited a community center where some of the survivors are being housed, as anger grows among local residents about allegations that fire safety concerns were ignored for years.
The government has ordered a judge-led inquiry into Wednesday’s disaster, which is under pressure to act quickly.
“Something’s gone wrong here, something’s gone drastically wrong,” Communities and Local Government Minister Sajid Javid told BBC radio.
Javid said inspections of similar buildings had been ordered, with particular attention to the modern cladding used to beautify and add an insulation layer to ageing concrete and steel structures.
“We need to do whatever it takes to make people that live in those properties safe: that’s either make the properties safe or find some other accommodation, it has to be done,” he said, adding that survivors from the tower would be re-housed in the local area.
Opposition Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for houses in the area to be “requisitioned” for survivors.
TheNewsGuru.com reports that the Prime Minister, Theresa had on Thursday called for a full investigation into the incident. She promised that findings will be made public to satisfy the curiosity that greeted the sad incident.