May orders inquiry into London fire

Mrs May, already under pressure after a series of terrorist attacks and an election in which her Conservative Party lost its majority, said yesterday that a public inquiry was needed to ensure "this awful tragedy is properly investigated".

LONDON (AP) - Relatives of those missing after a high-rise tower blaze in London posted pictures of their loved ones Friday in the desperate hope of news, as grief following the tragedy has turned to outrage at authorities accused of being lax in meeting building standards.

"We are shocked to hear of the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower and our immediate thoughts are with those that have been affected by the incident", a Rydon spokesman said in an e-mailed statement. This advice has been known to work in buildings that are well compartmentalised, preventing the rapid spread of the fire from floor to floor. At Grenfell Tower, many who received this advice are likely to have died.

Fire risk assessment in tower blocks was "less rigorous" since responsibility for it shifted from the fire brigade to the owner, Sian Berry, Housing Committee Chairwoman of the London Assembly, said. Numerous apartment block's residents are still missing.

She also expressed her concern about the long-term psychological effect, saying: "A lot of my firefighters yesterday experienced things they will never have seen before and I've spoken to some people who were truly distressed". Specially trained dogs were being brought in to aid the search.

Local government minister Sajid Javid, responsible for housing policy, defended May for not meeting with those affected by the disaster: "What she wanted to do was to speak to the people working on the ground on the recovery operation, the rescue operation to make sure that they've got everything they want and see how she could help", he told Sky news.

May calls for public inquiry.

Grenfell Tower is managed by the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation on behalf of the local council.

Southwark's deputy leader Stephanie Cryan, who is cabinet member for housing, said that the "terrible news" of the Grenfell Tower fire was "particularly raw for us in Southwark, bringing back awful memories of the Lakanal fire".

Other questions include what role aluminium exterior cladding might have played in the fire's rapid spread; and whether sprinklers and alarm systems had been in place and functioning properly.

The London tower that became an inferno was encased in a type of cladding that is banned in the United States for being unsafe, according to reports.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn both met with residents.

But the blaze flared up again on Thursday afternoon, forcing search teams to scale back their efforts.

The fire early Wednesday in the 24-story building in west London's North Kensington district also injured dozens, 18 of them critically, and left an unknown number missing.

May said all of the Grenfell victims will be rehoused in London.

The singer Adele was among many Londoners who gathered close to the burnt tower late on Wednesday to show sympathy for the victims and survivors.

More than 1 million pounds ($1.27 million) has been raised to help victims of the tragedy as volunteers and charities worked through the night to find shelter and food for people who lost their homes.

  • Salvatore Jensen