Trapped amid

StarMetro Toronto - - WORLD -

Fire swept through a highrise apart­ment build­ing in west Lon­don Wed­nes­day, killing at least a dozen peo­ple. They banged on win­dows, screamed for help, dropped chil­dren from smoky floors in a des­per­ate at­tempt to save them. Ter­ri­fied res­i­dents of the Gren­fell Tower said there was lit­tle warn­ing of the in­ferno that en­gulfed their highrise apart­ment build­ing and left 12 peo­ple dead — a toll that of­fi­cials said would al­most cer­tainly rise.

The blaze early Wed­nes­day in the 24-storey build­ing in west Lon­don’s North Kens­ing­ton dis­trict also in­jured 79 oth­ers, 18 of them crit­i­cally, and left an un­known num­ber miss­ing. More than 200 fire­fight­ers worked through the night and were still find­ing pock­ets of fire in­side later in the day.

“In my 29 years of be­ing a fire­fighter, I have never, ever seen any­thing of this scale,” Fire Com­mis­sioner Dany Cot­ton said.

Up to 600 peo­ple lived in 120 apart­ments.

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s of­fice said she was “deeply sad­dened by the tragic loss of life” in the fire. Mayor Sadiq Khan said many ques­tions must be an­swered about safety for the scores of other apart­ment blocks around the Bri­tish cap­i­tal.

Sur­vivors told of at­tempts to es­cape dur­ing the fire.

Samira Lam­rani said she saw a woman drop a baby from a win­dow on the ninth or 10th floor to peo­ple on the side­walk.

When the woman in­di­cated she was go­ing to drop the in­fant, “a gen­tle­man ran for­ward and man­aged to grab the baby,” she said.

Joe Walsh, 58, said he saw some­one toss two chil­dren out a win­dow on the fifth or sixth floor. Ti­ago Eti­enne, 17, said he saw about three chil­dren be­tween the ages of four and eight be­ing dropped from around the 15th floor. There was no word on their fate.

Other res­i­dents told tales of their own es­capes and frus­tra­tion at not be­ing able to help.


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