Monday, 26 June, 2017

London fire death toll at 17; 'miracle' if anymore survivors

Christy Curtis | 16 June, 2017, 05:48

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday ordered a full public inquiry into the devastating fire that consumed a west London tower block killing at least 17 people and leaving many missing.

Stuart Cundy said that "we believe this number will sadly increase". Fire Commissioner Danny Cotton said there are still "unknown numbers" of bodies in Grenfell Tower and they are not expecting to find any more survivors. She also said that while investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire, it is "far too early" to speculate what started it.

In a statement signed "Elizabeth R" and released early on Thursday, the Queen, 91, said, "My thoughts and prayers are with those families who have lost loved ones in the Grenfell Tower fire and the many people who are still critically ill in hospital".

Her decision comes as residents demand answers as to why fire swept through the 24-storey block in north Kensington so quickly - and why their warnings were apparently ignored.

Emergency accommodation had been provided to 44 households affected by the fire.

Residents who spoke to CBS News have said they spent years complaining about fire safety concerns, including blocked exits in the building, but that the management company was never responsive.

Similar external cladding has been linked to the fast spread of deadly fires on other apartment buildings both in the United Kingdom, and as far away as Australia.

It is not yet known what scope the inquiry will be, but Mrs May said it will be in addition to the immediate fire report and any potential police investigation.

"The people who died and lost their homes, this happened to them because they are poor", said the MOBO award-winning artist, who resides in the area, in an interview withChannel 4.

"The fire is not supposed to spread from one flat to another, it's supposed to be contained".

Outside the cordons, impromptu tributes have appeared, with photos of missing people, messages of condolences, flowers and candles.

The 8.7 million pounds (9.9 million euro, $11 million) refurbishment also included new windows and heating systems. "It was like something out of a Hollywood disaster movie", he said.

Dany Cotton said her crews had witnessed some bad things, including seeing people jumping from windows and throwing their children out of the burning building.

Cotton added that many firefighters were treated for minor injuries and heat exhaustion, and some were traumatized by the inability to save more people.

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