Fury after fatal fire in London
Scores dead, missing as building standards queried
LONDON: Relatives of those missing after a high-rise tower blaze in the capital posted pictures of their loved ones yesterday in the desperate hope of news, as grief following the tragedy has turned to outrage at authorities accused of being lax in meeting building standards.
Firefighters searching the smouldering ruin in west London have recovered six bodies from the 24-storey Grenfell Tower, while 11 others have been located but cannot yet be removed from the gutted structure. The death toll at the time of going to press stood at 30 but was expected to rise substantially.
Metropolitan Police commander Stuart Cundy responded to speculation that the number of dead could exceed 100, saying: “From a personal perspective, I really hope it isn’t.”
Britain’s Press Association reported that about 70 people were still missing after compiling a list of verified reports. Authorities said they did not know how many people might have died.
Families searching for their loved ones have blanketed the area near the tower with posters searching for answers, as attention turned to whether recent refurbishment on the building was done properly.
“I do sense the anger,” Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom said as she faced the fury of local residents during a tour of the site.
Residents and victims expressed outrage at Prime Minister Theresa May, who visited the site the day before with- out meeting local residents.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince William visited an aid distribution site and met volunteers yesterday. The monarch expressed her sympathies to families of victims of the blaze.
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn came to the site on Thursday and met residents.
Whole families are said to be among the missing, including Bassem Choukeir, his wife Nadia, her mother Sariyya and the couple’s three daughters Mirna, Fatmeh and Zaynab. They lived on the 22nd floor.
London Police said an investigation had been launched to determine whether the blaze involved any crimes and May announced a public inquiry.
The tower is in the North Kensington neighbourhood, a working-class, multi-ethnic area. Some observers asked whether hazards in the Grenfell complex, which had 120 flats that housed as many as 600 people, were ignored because its residents are mainly poor. – AP
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth visits the Westway Sports Centre following the fire at the Grenfell Tower block, in North Kensington, London.
A resident reacts with anger close to the scene of the blaze. Authorities are being blamed for not ensuring proper building standards were in force at the tower block that housed mainly immigrants.