LONDON: The Sun newspaper on Friday listed 65 people who it said were still missing or feared dead in a London tower block fire which police said has left 17 people dead with the death toll expected to rise.
When asked on Thursday whether the death toll could exceed 100, London police commander Stuart Cundy said: “I’d like to hope that it isn’t going to be triple figures.”
London Fire Brigade chief Dany Cotton earlier said urban search units backed by specialist dog teams would scour the building as structural surveyors helped make the tower safe.
The cause of the blaze, the worst in the British capital in a generation, was being investigated. Speaking within weeks of London’s deadliest attack by militants in more than a decade, Cundy said nothing suggested the fire was linked to terrorism.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who has promised an investigation into the disaster, visited the scene on Thursday to meet members of the emergency services, but left without making any public comment.
Local residents say there had been repeated warnings about the safety of the building, which recently underwent an 8.7 million pound ($11.1 million) exterior refurbishment, which included new external cladding and windows.Planning documents detailing the refurbishment did not refer to a type of fire barrier that building safety experts said should be used when high-rise blocks are being re-clad, according to Reuters research.
Queen Elizabeth said her thoughts and prayers were with those families who had lost loved ones and with the many people still critically ill in hospital. She also paid tribute to the bravery of firefighters who risked their lives to save others.
“It is also heartening to see the incredible generosity of community volunteers rallying to help those affected by this terrible event,” the queen said.
Outpouring of support
Survivors, many of whom lost all their belongings in the blaze, spent the night at emergency shelters, as charities and local support groups were flooded with donations of clothes and bedding from shocked Londoners.
Piles of shoes, clothes, duvets and other items accumulated in several spots where volunteers were sorting them. The local authority, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, thanked donors but said it could not take any further donations.
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.
The queen’s grandsons, Prince William and Prince Harry, along with William’s wife Kate, donated to a relief fund organised by London’s local Evening Standard newspaper.
The fire brigade said the fire was unprecedented in its scale and the speed of its spread.
The tower, built in 1974 in North Kensington, an area of west London, contained 120 flats and was thought to have been home to about 600 people.