Fury af­ter fa­tal fire in London

Scores dead, miss­ing as build­ing stan­dards queried

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

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

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

Bri­tain’s Queen El­iz­a­beth vis­its the West­way Sports Cen­tre fol­low­ing the fire at the Gren­fell Tower block, in North Kens­ing­ton, London.

PIC­TURE: EPA

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.

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