Ravaged building toll rises
MORE than 70 of the Grenfell Tower’s residents are now feared to have died, as the official number of deaths yesterday climbed to 30 and police warned it could take months to locate victims inside the blackened tower.
The policeman heading the inquiry into Wednesday’s fire, Commander Stuart Cundy, said he “hoped” the death toll would not reach 100.
“From a personal perspective, I really hope it isn’t,” a visibly distressed Mr Cundy said.
“For those of us that have been down there it’s pretty emotional, so I hope it is not triple figures, but I can’t be drawn on the numbers.”
Police have confirmed 30 bodies have been located but it is believed at least 70 people have died.
At least 18 children are among those feared killed, along with a family of six, another family of four, and several elderly and disabled residents who could not make it down the central fire stairs.
Firefighters yesterday made it to the roof of the 24storey block of council flats in west London, but were unable to enter the top three floors due to the risk of collapse.
It’s feared dozens of the missing residents may have been trapped on those floors, unable to escape the fire which appears to have started with a small electrical fire in a kitchen on the fourth floor, but spread rapidly through cheap exterior cladding installed on the building’s facade last year.
So ferocious was the blaze, police have warned some of the victims may never be found.
Only two people have been confirmed by their families so far as deceased: Khadija Saye, 24, an artist who lived in the building with her mother, and Mohammed al-Haj Ali, 23, a university student and Syrian refugee who fled the Assad regime for a new life in London.
Twenty-four people remain in hospital and 12 remain in a critical condition.
Mr Cundy confirmed police had examined the site where the fire started and there was nothing to indicate it was deliberately lit, but he did not say how it started.
Of the 30 confirmed deaths, the bodies of 12, including one who died in hospital, have been taken to a mortuary, while 18 more remain inside the tower.
Outside the tower, furious residents heckled Mr Cundy, councillors and politicians as they attended the scene, and several yelled at Queen Elizabeth and her grandson Prince William when they attended the Westway sports centre, which is acting as a makeshift shelter. Prince William told residents the fire was “one of the most terrible things I have ever seen”.
The Royal family got a better reception later at the annual Trooping the Colour parade, which was a sombre affair in deference to the tragedy.
The Royal family gather on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for a bittersweet Trooping the Colour ceremony