2nd LD: Protesters storm local town hall over London fire
- Author: Salvatore Jensen Jun 19, 2017,
Jun 19, 2017, 22:46
(AP Photo/Tim Ireland). People demonstrate demanding answers over the Grenfell Tower fire, in London, Friday June 16, 2017.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is shown donations by Executive Director of Kensington and Chelsea Council, Sue Harris during a visit to the Westway Sports Center which is helping victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in west London on June 16, 2017. Grief over a London high-rise tower fire that killed dozens turned to outrage Friday amid reports that the materials used in a recen.
Public anger was mounting as residents and neighbors demanded answers for how the blaze spread so quickly amid reports that contractors installed a cheaper, less flame-resistant type of exterior paneling in a renovation of the Grenfell Tower that ended in May 2016. British media have reported that contractors installed a cheaper, less flame-resistant type of exterior paneling on the 24-story tower in a renovation that was completed just previous year.
The death toll is expected to rise further as rescue workers continue to search for victims - an operation that Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy described as "extremely challenging". However, there may be other people who were in there on the night that others were not aware were there.
Previously, the Metropolitan Police had confirmed 30 people had been killed in the inferno; the announcement Saturday almost doubles that number.
"During recent visits in Manchester and London, I have been profoundly struck by the immediate inclination of people throughout the country to offer comfort and support to those in desperate need", the queen said in a statement.
Cundy said police had started a criminal investigation but there was nothing to suggest "that the fire had been started deliberately". They say their complaints were ignored. He asked anyone who was in the tower and survived to contact police immediately.
He said: "The building itself is in a very hazardous state".
One woman wept saying it was because the Prime Minister declined to speak to anyone outside the meeting which lasted less than hour.
"But, frankly, the support on the ground for families who needed help or basic information in the initial hours after this appalling disaster was not good enough".
The identification of the victims is proving very hard - which experts attribute to the extreme heat of the fire.
Twenty-four people are being treated in hospital, including 12 who are in critical care, he added.
Police have said the recovery process could take weeks, and warned some of the bodies may be too burned to be identified. This relies on dental records, fingerprints and DNA when possible and also features like tattoos or scars. A solemn Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip held a minute of silence for the fire victims at the start of the procession Saturday. "This year, however, it is hard to escape a very somber national mood".
In an interview with the BBC late Friday, May insisted she was "deeply affected" by the "horrifying" stories of survivors, and repeated that she was determined to help.
London has a chronic housing shortage even in the best of times, and those left homeless by the fire - already angry over what they see as government inequity and incompetence - fear being forced out of the British capital.
Residents had raised concerns about the fire safety of the building prior to the blaze.
The government has ordered inspections of similar buildings, and May said it was doing "everything in our power" to ensure people living in an estimated 4,000 other tower blocks across Britain were safe.
The tragedy has provoked a huge response from nearby communities that have donated food and shelter to the victim.