12 dead as inferno guts London tower block
LONDON: Fire engulfed a 24-storey housing block in the capital in the early hours yesterday, killing at least 12 people and injuring 78 others in an inferno that trapped residents as they slept.
Flames raced through the highrise Grenfell Tower block of flats in the Kensington area after taking hold about 1am. Witnesses reported some residents screaming for help from windows of upper floors and others trying to throw children to safety.
More than 200 firefighters, backed up by 40 fire engines, fought for hours to try to bring the blaze, one of the biggest seen in central London in memory, under control.
By mid-day, London police said six people had been killed. They cautioned the death toll was likely to rise and that there could be people in the building who are unaccounted for. Fire-fighting crews still had to reach the top four floors of the building where several hundred people live in 130 flats.
The cause of the fire, which left the tower block a charred, smoking shell, was not immediately known.
The block had recently undergone millions in refurbishment of the exterior. Residents rushed to escape through smoke-filled corridors after being woken up by the smell of burning. The fire engulfed all floors from the second to the top of the 24-storey block. Reports said some residents leapt out of windows to escape the flames. One woman lost two of her six children as she tried to escape from the block.
Smoke rises from a fire at the Grenfell Tower apartment block in North Kensington, London, yesterday.