Tower’s cladding may have been il­le­gal

The Washington Post - - THE WORLD -

The ex­te­rior cladding used in a ren­o­va­tion of Lon­don’s Gren­fell Tower may have been banned un­der U.K. build­ing reg­u­la­tions, two Bri­tish min­is­ters said Sun­day as po­lice con­tin­ued their crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into an in­ferno that killed at least 58 peo­ple.

Greg Hands, the trade min­is­ter, said the gov­ern­ment is car­ry­ing out an “ur­gent in­spec­tion” of about 2,500 sim­i­lar tower blocks across Bri­tain to as­sess their safety.

Ex­perts think that the ex­te­rior cladding, which con­tained in­su­la­tion, helped spread the flames quickly up the out­side of the pub­lic hous­ing tower on Wed­nes­day morn­ing. Some said they had never seen a build­ing fire ad­vance so quickly. The 24-story tower, which once housed as many as 600 peo­ple in 120 apart­ments, is now a charred ruin.

Hands and fi­nance min­is­ter Philip Ham­mond said in sep­a­rate TV ap­pear­ances that the cladding used on Gren­fell seems to be pro­hib­ited by Bri­tish reg­u­la­tions. Hands cau­tioned that of­fi­cials do not have ex­act de­tails about the ren­o­va­tion that ended just last year.

Alu­minum cladding with in­su­la­tion sand­wiched be­tween two pan­els has been blamed for help­ing to spread flames in fires in many parts of the world.

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