Grenfell Tower: 79 presumed dead in London fire
June 19, 2017 05:25 pm
At least 79 people are dead or missing and presumed dead following the fire that tore through the 24-story Grenfell Tower in London, police have said.
Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy told a press conference Monday that only five victims have been formally identified so far, and the death toll may change.
“Sadly for many families they have lost more than one family member,” said Cundy, who added that the “painstaking” search and recovery operation is proceeding as quickly as possible, but may take “many many weeks.”
Cundy explained that one of the reasons identification has been so difficult is because dental records are needed from victims who hailed from different countries around the world.
However, five people who were originally reported as missing have since been found safe and well.
The UK Press Association reported that 17 people are still being treated in London hospitals, of whom nine remained in critical care on Monday.
The police chief, who went inside the charred shell of the high-rise tower over the weekend, told reporters: “I’ve investigated major crime for most of my service and I’ve seen some terrible things but I don’t think anything prepared me for what I was going to see when I was in there.”
The government has promised a public inquiry, and police have opened a criminal investigation.
Cundy said the “complex” and “exhaustive” inquiry will focus on a range of issues including how the building was constructed, a recent refurbishment of it, how it is managed and maintained and fire safety measures.
Speculation has focused on the role that cladding apparently used in a recent refurbishment of the tower may have played in the fire.