The death toll from the fire that tore through a London high-rise has almost doubled, as residents lash out at the government’s response to one of the deadliest blazes in United Kingdom history.
Fifty-eight people are now believed to have been killed in Grenfell Tower fire, police said Saturday.
“Whilst I sincerely hope that our work over the coming days means that we able to say that less people are confirmed as having died, I also have to consider the sad reality that this may rise,” said Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy.
The high number includes the 30 confirmed fatalities police announced a day earlier, meaning 28 more people are believed to be killed.
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There are 16 bodies currently in a London morgue, Cundy said, and the remaining victims are missing and presumed dead. Nineteen people are still in the hospital, 10 of whom are in critical condition.
London is reeling from Wednesday’s early morning blaze, which charred the bulk of the 120-apartment tower in the city’s Kensington neighborhood.
What caused the fire to break out remains unclear, but authorities indicated Friday they don’t believe it was intentional.
Up to 600 people are believed to have lived in the 24-story tower, and many remain missing.
Death toll in London apartment blaze climbs to 30
Cundy made a plea to anyone who escaped the tower but hasn’t checked in with police to come forward.
“It does not matter why you have not told us, what is important is that we know you are safe,” he said.
Mohammad Alhajali, 23, on Saturday became the first victim officially identified by police.
Up to 600 people are believed to have lived in the 24-story tower. Residents complained of problems with the building, which they said mostly went unanswered.
They became outraged with the British government’s response to the blaze, with lingering concerns on where residents will be relocated, if other buildings will suffer the same fate and the slow flow of information.
Prime Minister Theresa May, who’s come under fire for her handling of the situation, acknowledged Saturday that the response “was not good enough.”
May said a full inquiry to the chaotic fire would begin, and said the government would find homes for displaced residents within three weeks.
“I have ordered that more staff be deployed across the area, wearing high visibility clothing, so they can easily be found, dispense advice and ensure the right support is provided,” said May, who’s facing resignation calls for the delayed response.
Cundy, speaking earlier Saturday, tried to explain why it’s taken so long for the body count to come out.
“I completely understand the growing sense of frustration within the local community and especially those people for whom Grenfell Tower was home,” he said. “Sadly, our work will be ongoing for many, many weeks.We know that there are still bodies of those who died inside the building and we want to return those people to their families as soon as we possibly can.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Saturday he relayed residents’ multiple concerns to a taskforce assembled in response to the fatal blaze.
“I assured the Prime Minister that all agencies under my control as Mayor support this effort, and will provide any help we can to improve the support of affected residents,” Khan said in a statement. “The Government must ensure the recovery operation receives all resources and expertise they need.”
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