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Death toll in London tower block fire rises to 30

News Agencies | Updated on: 16 June 2017, 19:36 IST
London tower block fire

The dead toll in Wednesday's heavy fire that engulfed a tower block in west London has risen to 30.

"At least 30 fatalities have been confirmed; the bodies of twelve people have been recovered and are at a mortuary, which includes one person who has also died at hospital, despite the best efforts of colleagues in the NHS," the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

However, the death toll is expected to increase as chances are bleak that any survivors will be found alive.

The police further said that initial reports from specialist investigators and experts, who have examined the flat where the fire started, there is nothing to suggest the fire was started deliberately.

"It is very hard to find the words to express how those families affected must be feeling, and it is our job to work tirelessly to provide them with the answers they so richly deserve. This is a deeply distressing time and my thoughts remain with all those whose lives have been changed by this tragic incident," said Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan Police.

"A priority of each and every one of us involved in the ongoing operation at Grenfell Towers is to recover and identify all the victims," he added.

Earlier, the police launched a criminal inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire incident after it emerged that cladding, used on Grenfell Tower is banned in the US, and that it would have cost just 5,000 pounds extra for the contractors to apply a fire-resistant version of panelling to the building, according to a report by the Independent.

The panels, believed to have been fitted to the outside of Grenfell Tower, are produced by U.S. company Reynobond, which makes three types of panel: one with a flammable plastic core and two with fire-resistant cores.

It is believed that contractors chose the cheaper, more combustible version for Grenfell, which has a polyethylene core and is known as PE.

In the aftermath of the heavy fire incident, the government led by Prime Minister Theresa May is receiving flak for not paying heed to the fire safety warnings that were issued.

The Prime Minister's new chief of staff Gavin Barwell had allegedly failed to review the safety during his tenure as housing minister, despite it already having been delayed for years.

His predecessor, Brandon Lewis declined to bring in regulation forcing developers to fit sprinklers because he said it was not the Government's responsibility, reports The Independent.

Pressure continued to mount with the leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn preparing to attack the ministers with all guns blazing.

Suggesting spending cuts may also have a role to play, he said: "If you deny local authorities the funding they need, then there is a price that's paid."

"A review took place after the fire in Camberwell and the Government has that review. I believe we need to ask questions about what facilities and resources have been given to local authorities that have tower blocs in the area and, frankly, most do. We need to deal with this; we need people to be safe living in high rise buildings," Corbyn said.

With regards to the involvement of any current serving frontbench politicians, Corbyn asserted that although the focus at this point is on saving the locals, all ministers in their tenure must be interrogated.


First published: 16 June 2017, 19:36 IST