UK govt scrambles to limit fallout from London blaze

Danny Woods
June 19, 2017

Mr Cundy said on Sunday that the death toll of 58 was based on reports from the public - including 30 deaths that already have been confirmed, and reports of people who are missing and presumed to have been killed.

Police said Saturday that their investigation would look at the building and its 2016 refurbishment, and vowed to bring prosecutions "if there is evidence".

Experts say the cladding and the insulation it contained seems to have spread the flames quickly along the exterior of the building, overwhelming safety devices like fire doors.

The cause of Wednesday's blaze is still under investigation, but anger has mounted in the community amid reports that exterior paneling used in an extensive renovation completed previous year may have been banned by United Kingdom rules.

Ronnie King, the UK's former chief fire officer, told Al Jazeera: "I wouldn't wish to denigrate those who installed the cladding because - whatever the cladding was - it did not have to be fire resistant under the building regulations", said King.

Asked if he feels guilty, he replied: "I feel bad about the whole position we find ourselves in".

As part of the inquiry, prominent Labour politician David Lammy said the government and police must seize all documents and records related to the building's renovation to avoid the destruction of incriminating evidence.

A firefighter stands outside of the Grenfell Tower after fire engulfed the 24-storey building, in London.

He complained bitterly that a friend - the young artist Khadija Saye - was still alive three hours after the fire started but was unable to get out of her apartment to safety.

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Commander Cundy further informed that the police investigation into the fire "will take weeks, it may take longer than that". He has not provided details about the inquiry.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan called the disaster a "preventable accident that didn't need to happen".

Khan, who grew up in public housing, said locals are still angry at the "poor response" from the local and federal government both before and after the tragedy - echoing an angry op-ed he wrote for The Guardian Sunday. I have heard horrifying stories from the fire brigade, from police and from victims themselves who were in that tower but also from other local residents, some of whom of course have not been able to go back to their homes either.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Prime Minister is this morning chairing a cross-Government meeting to ensure everything possible is being done to support those affected by the Grenfell tragedy".

She also says she will receive daily reports from the stricken neighborhood.

The first victim to be formally identified was Mohammed Alhajali, a 23-year-old Syrian refugee, who came to Britain in 2014 with his brother.

"I said 'why you didn't come - they brought us outside, I thought you are with us.' He said 'no one brought me outside.' He said, 'why you left me?'"

London police said Saturday they believed the death toll at the Grenfell Tower fire had risen to at least 58, as Britain comes to grips with what could be the worst fire in the country since World War II, Reuters reported.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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