London fire: 58 missing presumed dead

Judith Bessette
Junho 19, 2017

Grief has since given way to anger as protests were held in London yesterday by residents demanding more support for those affected by the fire.

Based on the number of people missing, at least 58 people were likely killed in the Grenfell Tower, London police said Saturday.

The blaze tore through all floors of the building and took more than 200 firefighters 24 hours to bring it under control.

The building's external cladding has come under intense scrutiny after the tragedy in which 58 people are presumed dead.

Cundy said 16 bodies had so far been recovered from the tower and taken to a mortuary.

Commander of the Metropolitan Police Stuart Cundy said in a statement that a recovery operation, which was briefly suspended for security reasons, had been resumed and family liaison officers were dealing with 52 families.

Community groups have said that warnings about poor fire safety have always been ignored, and that in the aftermath of the disaster, officials failed to immediately take care of those affected.

Emergency workers have reached the top of the 24-story tower.

Around 800 people gathered outside Prime Minister Theresa May's residence at Downing Street to protest against the United Kingdom government's handling of the disaster, said Joey Ayoub, a journalist and activist who joined others at Number 10.

Ms May, who was criticised a day earlier for not meeting with locals and survivors, visited the area again on Friday to meet with some locals inside a church.

May said after the meeting Saturday that there have been "huge frustrations" in the community as people tried to get information. "But, frankly, the support on the ground for families who needed help or basic information in the initial hours after this appalling disaster was not good enough".

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The identification of the victims is proving very hard - which experts attribute to the extreme heat of the fire. "This was a awful tragedy that took place".

Queen Elizabeth II said the disaster had cast a sombre pall over Britain, but insisted the country was showing resolve in the face of adversity.

Officials are using dental records, fingerprints and DNA samples to try and positively identify victims.

Mrs May arrived in Downing Street on Saturday where she is chairing the Government taskforce on the calamity.

After a turbulent three months which has seen three militant attacks and now the tower blaze, Queen Elizabeth said "it is hard to escape a very sombre national mood", in a message on her official birthday.

She also said that the public inquiry into the fire would report back to personally. The building was gutted in a blaze early Wednesday morning that has also left dozens missing and hundreds of others homeless.

Angry protesters chanting "We want justice" stormed their way into the Kensington and Chelsea town hall on Friday.

The British government Sunday scrambled to contain political fallout from the London high-rise inferno that has claimed at least 58 lives as officials focused on building materials that may have spread the fire quickly.

The PM has ordered a public inquiry into the blaze, as the cladding used to insulate the tower block and the building's safety measures have come under scrutiny. Mrs May has announced a fund of about $6.5 million for the victims. Numerous displaced are living in churches and community centres.

When asked why they couldn't get access to it, she said: "Because no one's telling us where it is".

Some Grenfell residents had warned months ago fire safety issues at the tower meant that it was at risk of a "catastrophic" event. "However, there may be other people who were in there on the night that others were not aware were there", he said.

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