UK finds 34 high-rise apartment buildings with unsafe siding

Arconic, the company that supplied the combustible cladding to a distributor for use at Grenfell, was accused of ignoring the hazardous nature of such panels despite knowing the fire risk they pose, according to company e-mails dating from 2014 and seen by Reuters.

As the investigation continues into the Grenfell Tower fire that gutted most of the building's 127 apartments and claimed at least 79 lives, the Camden Council said it was "block booking hotels" for residents of the Chalcot estate while it carries out urgent fire safety works.

Not all buildings failing the test are expected to be evacuated as people from Chalcots Estate in Swiss Cottage in north London spent a second night away from their homes after being moved out on Friday night as the estate was found to be vulnerable.

However, she explained that "there are various legal routes that Camden Council could explore" if people refuse to leave their homes. Scores of evacuees slept on inflatable beds in a gym while officials sought better accommodations for them.

Camden Council said it would remove external thermal cladding from five tower blocks on the Chalcots estate.

All the cladding on high-rise buildings judged to be potentially at risk has failed Government combustability tests, it has emerged.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said further testing "is running around the clock".

Georgina Gould, the leader of Camden Council, is now advising "in the strongest possible terms" that residents who are still inside the 22-storey buildings on the Chalcots Estate should leave.

Earlier, Camden council's Labour leader, Georgia Gould, said the authority had acted "as swiftly as we possibly can" to ensure people's safety. Premier Inn said Friday it had "concerns" about the material used on some of its buildings, though it is different from the type used at Grenfell Tower.

Leaving on foot, some with suitcases and bags, hundreds made their way to the nearby Swiss Cottage library to be allocated a hotel for the night after the council block-booked rooms across London.

Thousands have already been evacuated from high-rise blocks in Camden, north London, although other local authorities will make their own decisions based on the nature of their area's housing stock.

Residents from all five Chalcots towers were initially evacuated, but one of the five - Blashford - was deemed safe and residents were allowed to return. Officials first announced the evacuation of one building, then expanded it to five and later reduced it to four. Some residents said they learned about the evacuation from the television news hours before officials came knocking on doors. I saw it on the TV, so I packed an overnight bag. "There's no organization and it's chaos", she added.

"We expect that authorities and landlords are very sensibly giving the highest priority to buildings with which they have most concern". Police say 79 people are either dead or missing and presumed dead in the blaze, although that number may change.

British police have said they are considering bringing manslaughter charges over the Grenfell fire.

The Metropolitan Police said cladding attached to the 24-story public housing project during a recent renovation failed safety tests conducted by investigators, and that they have seized documents from a number of organizations.

"We are looking at every criminal offence from manslaughter onwards", Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack told reporters.

Officials said Friday that the blaze started in a faulty refrigerator, but the cladding installed during a recent multimillion-dollar refurbishment of Grenfell Tower is believed to have exacerbated the inferno, which consumed almost all 24 floors in about an hour.

  • Leroy Wright