79 people presumed dead in London tower block fire

Judith Bessette
Junho 20, 2017

It's an increase from the previous number of 58.

A minute's silence was held across Britain at 1000 GMT (6.00 a.m. ET) to honor the victims of the fire - a painfully familiar ritual after the country has been hit by three deadly attacks by Islamist extremists in London and Manchester since March.

"The search operation will be painstaking and having been in there myself it's really hard to describe the devastation that the fire has caused".

In other developments, a company that renovated the tower denied that cladding on the building was banned in the United Kingdom after comments made by Chancellor Philip Hammond. The fire happened at the public housing building early Wednesday morning (June 14), while some residents were sleeping and others, awake in light of Ramadan.

The investigation into the fire will span a "wide range of areas", Cundy said, from its original construction, to the refurbishment and how it has been managed and maintained. Authorities are trying to determine if any criminal offenses were made by the building's managers, with accounts from residents indicating that it was for years a fire trap.

"My understanding is that the cladding that was reported wasn't in accordance with United Kingdom building regulations", Hands told Sky News.

Cundy said the death toll may still change, but not as significantly as it has in recent days. Some said they had never seen a building fire advance so quickly.

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Hassanen's friends alerted local authorities who began searching the area with helicopters and K9 teams. She said the suspect was drunk - another witness also described the suspect as drunk - and "got mad".

"The very bad reality is that, due to the intensity of the fire and the devastation within Grenfell Tower, we may not be able to identify everyone who died", he added. "There is a feeling from the community that they have been treated badly", he said.

Police have said criminal prosecutors will be pursued if there is evidence of wrongdoing.

The government is struggling to find temporary housing for people who lived in the 24-story tower.

Prime Minister Theresa May, already facing severe political problems trying to form a government after losing her majority in Parliament, was heckled when she visited the site on Thursday and criticized for taking too long to meet with survivors, the AP reported.

Cundy said the number includes 30 deaths that already have been confirmed, as well as reports of people who are missing and presumed to have died.

British health authorities will also provide long-term bereavement counselling for those who lost loved ones in the tragedy.

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