Crowds gather outside church for vigil after Grenfell Tower blaze

15 Juin, 2017, 04:25 | Author: Claudine Rigal

Fire and rescue crews are fighting a blaze and searching for people who may have been trapped in a 24-story apartment building in London that was engulfed in fire overnight.

One family has had no news of their three young girls who were believed to be trapped in the building.

The fire continued to burn into Wednesday morning.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan posted on Twitter that a "major incident" had been declared and urged people to follow the London Fire Brigade's Twitter feed for updates.

"These are very early stages and we do expect that figure to rise", London's Metropolitan Police said of the death toll.

"This is going to be a long and complex recovery operation and I do anticipate that the number of fatalities will sadly increase beyond those 12".

Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), which is facing accusations over alleged safety failings at the 24-story tower, has asked people to donate to a fund set up by a local charity to help those affected by the fire.

Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California both spoke on the floor issuing calls for unity.

NHS England said 74 patients were treated in six hospitals across London.

At least six people have died in the blaze and more than 70 were injured - of which 20 were in a critical condition.

The building is the Grenfell Tower in the North Kensington area.

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A cordon was put in place around the building and around 30 adjacent flats to the tower block were evacuated by the police. Local councillor Judith Blakeman, who lives opposite the tower, rushed outside when she heard about the blaze at 5am.

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"All our warnings fell on deaf ears, and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time", the group said in a blog post Wednesday.

"We tried to go back, but it was all black, so I had to come out of the building", Wahbi added. The Grenfell Action Group, a campaign group set up by residents, warned a year ago: "It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO". The company said in an earlier statement that it was "doing everything it can to assist the residents of Grenfell Tower".

Rydon construction, which recently refurbished the block in an $11 million job to modernise the exterior, said new cladding and windows "met all required building control, fire regulation, and health and safety standards".

Police and Fire Minister Nick Hurd will chair a meeting of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat to co-ordinate the response to the disaster and the Government is ready to assist "as necessary", a Number 10 spokesman said. "Even when the lights went off, people were waving with white shirts to be seen", Lleshi said.

"In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale", London Fire Brigade chief Dany Cotton told reporters.

The Grenfell tenants' organization's newsletter instructs residents to stay put in a fire unless the blaze is in their own apartment or in their hallway - the same guidance used in multistory hotels and other high-rise buildings.

Witnesses said the fire spread rapidly and traumatic accounts have emerged of the desperate attempts made by residents to flee the flames. "As I was going down the stairs, there were firefighters, truly wonderful firefighters that were actually going upstairs, to the fire, trying to get as many people out the building as possible", he told the BBC.

He says that “violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”.

Virginia Sang, 62, said she knows numerous Grenfell Tower residents through her work at a local health centre and had walked past its only entrance hours before the fire started.

"People were starting to appear at the windows, frantically banging and screaming", Lamrani said, adding the woman gestured that she wanted to drop a baby.

The 37-year-old said there were "explosions everywhere you looked".


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