London fire: British PM Theresa May orders inquiry as toll reaches 17

He said that 37 people were under medical treatment, of which 17 were in critical care. "And he is a professional fire officer", Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton told Sky News.

Here is what we know so far.

A number of anxious family members have posted pictures of missing relatives on social media, pleading for information.

The Prime Minister said the inquiry, which is expected to cost several million pounds, was needed to ensure "this bad tragedy is properly investigated". Queen Elizabeth II paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the blaze and acknowledged the "bravery" of the firefighters.

The attitude of the President raised several criticisms from public opinion because in the short time she was on the site she avoided addressing the families of the victims as well as those affected by the incident.

Nura Jamal, who lived on the 23rd floor and is feared to have died with her two sons, aged six and 11, called a friend at 2am and said: "Forgive me, the fire is here, I'm dying". But as the investigation continues, there are growing questions that a recent refurbishment could have contributed to the fire spreading so quickly.

The fire marked a fresh trauma in a city already roiled by terrorist attacks, an unhappy and divisive political campaign, and the lingering uncertainty over Britain's departure from the European Union, all of which seemed to endow the tragedy with an extra measure of dismay.

Theresa May faced a backlash from angry victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy after she failed to speak to members of the public during a visit to the scene of the fire.

Grenfell Tower is part of a social housing estate in north Kensington, just streets away from some of the most expensive homes in the world in Notting Hill. At one point a woman's voice, can be heard shouting, "We're stuck on the 23rd floor ..."

"We owe that to the families, to the people who have lost loved ones and the homes in which they lived", May said as firefighters said parts of the council-owned building in west London had become structurally unsafe.

Children banged on closed windows as they were enveloped by the thick black smoke.

"This was clearly a very rapid transmission of flame up the front of the building", he said.

He said the search of the gutted block might take months and some victims might never be identified. "Tragically, now we are not expecting to find anyone else alive". The 29-year-old singer was near the cordoned-off area of the scene.

Some residents said the official advice was that people should stay inside in the event of a fire.

Mike Gilmartin, director of Omega Fire Engineering, said that to meet requirements, a building must have residential sprinklers and fire alarms in every apartment, as well as other features such as a firefighting shaft.

Anthony Blakemore, a Londoner who like Adele visited Grenfell Tower last night, said on Twitter that "the strength of the community spirit restored my faith in humanity". "They don't care about fire safety".

The Web page of the Grenfell Action Group, a residents' organization, testified to the long-standing concerns, with blog entries stretching back years that warned of the dangers.

The fire spread and ripped through the Grenfell Tower on Wednesday morning, as more than 200 firefighters tried to bring the blaze under control. "We predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time".

The Liberal Democrats have called for an urgent review into fire safety and building regulations. In the early hours of Wednesday, the building turned into a flaming torch in minutes.

Firefighters rescued 65 people from the building. "The fire started on the upper floors".

London's fire commissioner says it will be a miracle if any survivors are found following a devastating high-rise fire that killed at least 12 people.

  • Larry Hoffman