Grenfell Tower: 79 presumed dead in London fire

Posted June 20, 2017

The number of people believed to have died from a fire that set ablaze Grenfell Tower in west London last week has risen to 79 and could increase, United Kingdom police say.

Damage is seen to a tower block which was destroyed in a fire disaster, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 15, 2017.

The new exterior cladding used in a renovation on London's Grenfell Tower may have been banned under United Kingdom building regulations, two British ministers said Sunday as police continued their criminal investigation into the inferno that killed at least 58 people.

Engineering experts and fire safety specialists believe the building's exterior cladding may have quickly fueled the blaze, overwhelming fire protection devices.

Five of the victims have been formally identified so far, Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said, the Telegraph reported. They previously estimated the figure to be 30.

The recovery operation in the 24-storey tower has resumed but could take weeks, the BBC said.

Two British officials said Sunday that new exterior cladding used in a renovation of Grenfell Tower may have been banned under United Kingdom building regulations.

Residents who met Prime Minister Theresa May over the weekend complained that they had not been consulted about the compensation before the announcement was made. Clement's Church near Grenfell Tower.

Speaking to reporters, he said the "awful reality" was that it might not be possible to identify all the victims.

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.

"His dream was to be able to go back home one day and rebuild Syria".

Conditions in the staircase were so cramped, fire crews were told they could stay outside to help or go into the burning building without their full breathing apparatus and just their eye gear.

Prince William hugged a victim of Wednesday's deadly west London fire (which now has a death toll of 58 people) when he made a visit to a crisis center on Friday.

Frustration has been mounting in recent days as information about those still missing in the inferno has been scanty and efforts to find temporary housing for the hundreds of now-homeless tower residents have faltered.

Britain observed a moment of silence at 11 a.m. Monday in remembrance of the victims.

"The tragedy at Grenfell Tower has left a number of local people in need of urgent assistance", a spokesman for the three royals at Kensington Palace said.