London fire: Grenfell Tower residents had warned of fire safety issues

Residents who escaped spoke of others trapped and screaming for help, with some holding children from windows and others jumping from upper floors, the Telegraph newspaper reported. "The crews are doing all that they possibly can to tackle this fire".

London police said the death toll was expected to rise as more than 200 firefighters and 40 units fought for hours to bring the fire in the 24-storey block under control.

Samira Awil said she had seen multiple bodies, including children, covered in sheets outside Grenfell Tower where they had fallen.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "deeply saddened" by the loss of life in the fire. "In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never seen anything of this scale", she said.

Earlier, George Clarke, a television presenter living close to scene, told BBC Radio that he saw people on the top floor of the block flashing their torches.

Edward Daffarn says he was on the 16th floor and heard a neighbor's smoke alarm go off and another neighbor called and told him to get out.

In March 2017, Ronnie King, honorary administrative secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group, said building regulations "haven't taken account of the Lakanal House fire inquest or updated recent accredited research".

"A lot of people are unaccounted for", he told Sky News television. Residents said it appeared to start in an apartment on a lower floor and spread upward quickly.

The cause of the fire, which broke out just before 1am (8am Malaysai), was not known, the Fire Brigade said.

"The police have said at this stage they are concerned the building could collapse", said Joanna O'Conner who lives in the area.

"I'm lucky to be alive". It was built in 1974 and owned by the local authority, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. "I consider this mass murder".

Local residents had warned a year ago about a potential fire risk caused by rubbish being allowed to accumulate during the improvement works.

Dave Brown, director of operations at London Fire Brigade, added: "This fire has highlighted just how unsafe faulty white goods can be".

The Action Group expressed concerns about the testing and maintenance of firefighting equipment and blocked emergency access to the site.

The minister said: 'My thoughts are with the residents and families of everyone caught up in this terrible event.

The Kensington and Chelsea Council, which oversees the area where the fire occurred, said in a statement its immediate focus was helping victims and their families.

A July 2014 newsletter for residents said the tower building was designed "according to rigorous fire safety standards" and recommended that residents stay inside their apartments in the case of a fire.

"There was a refurbishment [at Grenfell], we are refurbishing many of our 1960s and 1970s estates, the idea being to improve the heating and hot water systems, to install better windows, improve the insulation, make them more energy efficient, new cladding on the outside". Firefighters are working to put out the blaze, even 12 hours after it ignited.

London Mayor Khan said questions will need to be answered following the deadly blaze.

  • Leroy Wright