Presumed death toll in London tower blaze rises to 79

Gladys Abbott
June 19, 2017

A firefighter looks at tributes to presumed victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, after observing a minute's silence at a community center near the apartment building in west London.

Britain held a moment of silence for the victims on Monday, with emergency service workers bowing their heads in respect.

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Cundy said the search and recovery operation was ongoing in the burnt-out 24-storey tower.

He said it had been "incredibly emotional working in there", adding: "On Saturday I went in myself and went to the top floor".

"It is incredibly hard to describe the devastation in some parts of the building", he continued, his voice breaking.

"There is also a real possibility that there may be people in the building that no-one knows are missing", he said. May has come under personal attack for failing to meet residents during her first visit to the site.

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"That's why she totally accepted that it (the government response) hadn't been good enough".

May did not support a proposal put forward by opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party to seize unoccupied properties to rehouse survivors of the fire.

Grenfell Tower is located in a pocket of social deprivation within the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, one of Britain's wealthiest areas.

Of the 79, only five have been formally identified, London's Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy told reporters.

While he refused to speculate on the inquiry's outcome, Cundy said, "I would like to reassure everybody that we will be looking at all criminal offenses that may have been committed by any individual or organization".

London fire chief Dany Cotton told BBC radio that it might be "some days yet" before firefighters could say they have reached everyone in the building. "What is important for me is to find answers for those families who have been directly affected", he said.

When asked whether the death toll was likely to increase further, he said: "Today I know there are 79 people who are either confirmed dead and have been identified, or are missing and sadly I have to presume are dead".

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