Fire latest: 'Unknown numbers' of dead remain in burnt-out shell of Grenfell Tower as death toll raised to 17

0
Have your say

At least 17 people have died in the Grenfell Tower fire, although the death toll is still expected to rise, emergency services have said.

Specialist urban search and rescue teams are being brought in to make the 24-storey tower block safe in north Kensington to allow firefighters and the police to carry out investigations, following the devastating blaze that started in the early hours of Wednesday.

Search dogs will also be used to help locate the missing in the wreckage.

Commander Stuart Cundy, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "Sadly I can confirm that the number of people who have died is now 17.

"We do believe that that number will sadly increase."

Detective Chief Inspector Matt Bonner has been appointed to lead the investigation, he added.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said: "This will be a detailed fingertip search.

"Obviously this will be a very slow and painstaking process."

£1m raised and multi-faith community rallies as offers of help pour in after Grenfell Tower fire
YP Comment: No short cuts over fire safety. Desperation of inferno victims
Yorkshire charity appeals for help for London fire disaster victims
Emergency checks to be carried out on tower blocks after Grenfell Tower blaze
Video: Major blaze renews worries after Leeds tower block arson
Speaking from the scene, as family and friends of Grenfell residents continued the desperate search for information about the whereabouts of their loved ones, Mr Cundy said: "There are still a number of people who are receiving treatment in hospital.

"There are 37 people receiving treatment, of which 17 are still in critical care.

An 'unknown number' of people are still thought to be inside the Grenfell Tower block.

An 'unknown number' of people are still thought to be inside the Grenfell Tower block.

"Like we explained yesterday, our absolute priority for all of us is about identifying and locating those people that are still missing.

"It would be wrong for me to get into numbers that I do not believe are accurate."

The flats were home to between 400 and 600 people, community leaders said.

More than £1 million has been raised to help those affected by the fire, while volunteers and charities helped feed and shelter people who could not return to their homes overnight.

A wall of condolence was put up near the scene, with photographs showing dozens of messages left for loved ones.

Prime Minister Theresa May has promised a "proper investigation" after the building went up in flames amid growing concerns about how the blaze could have spread so rapidly.

Prime Minister Theresa May visited the scene on Thursday morning, speaking with firefighters and police officers inside the vast cordoned-off area around the fire site.

She was whisked away by car shortly after 10am without speaking to reporters.

Explaining the nature of the investigation, Ms Cotton said: "This is a large building, there will be a large amount of building work required internally.

"Before we do that, we are going to utilise some specialist dog training teams that we have, that will go through the building and the surrounding area looking for any identification of people.

"The benefit of using those dogs is clearly they are much lighter than people and they can cover a greater area in a very short space of time.

"I anticipate that London Fire Brigade will be on scene here for many days to come, working with our partners to ensure that we do the best for the people who are waiting for news of their loved ones."

She said "a good half" of the building had yet to be searched in detail, adding: "It is the upper floors which will be more challenging and will need some additional shoring up for us to be able to get in there."

She said the search could take "weeks", adding: "I want to be realistic - this is a very long process."

The London Fire Brigade said a ruptured gas main in the block had to be isolated before fire crews were able to put the blaze out and bring it under control by 1.14am - more than 24 hours after the alarm was raised.

A 40-metre aerial appliance was brought in from Surrey Fire and Rescue Service to help with this.

Ms Cotton said the number of people who are unaccounted for is still unknown as some may have got out by themselves or gone into other flats.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

It came as the Queen paid tribute to the "bravery" of firefighters who battled the fire.

She also praised the "incredible generosity" of volunteers offering their support to those affected.

Read more...

£1m raised and multi-faith community rallies as offers of help pour in after Grenfell Tower fire
YP Comment: No short cuts over fire safety. Desperation of inferno victims
Yorkshire charity appeals for help for London fire disaster victims
Emergency checks to be carried out on tower blocks after Grenfell Tower blaze
Video: Major blaze renews worries after Leeds tower block arson

l

Restaurant review: Gusto, Greek Street, Leeds