Business Standard

London fire toll is 12, likely to rise

IANS  |  London 

A deadly blaze that consumed a tower block has killed at least 12 people and the death toll is likely to rise, police said on Thursday.

As scores of volunteers plunged into a huge relief effort after the Wednesday blaze destroyed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower, authorities pledged to find out how the fire spread so rapidly all the way up from the fourth floor.

The tragedy has also prompted fears over the safety of other similar apartment blocks across the country, Xinhua news agency reported.

Metropolitan Police confirmed 12 deaths and said it expected the figure to go up. Fire crews have rescued 65 people from the building. But many residents remain missing.

Officials said 34 people were still in hospitals, including 18 who are in critical condition.

A cordon was in place around the building and around 30 flats adjacent to the tower block had been evacuated by police, Xinhua said. People have been advised to avoid the area.

The blaze broke out in the tower block in the West district of North Kensington about an hour after midnight Tuesday. The flames spread quickly, trapping a large number of people in their flats.

The Fire Brigade, which deployed 40 fire engines and more than 200 firefighters, was still at the scene on Thursday.

But the fire service made it clear that the building was not at the risk of collapsing.

Dozens of people left homeless by the fire spent the night in makeshift rescue centres. From across London, people donated food, clothes and blankets.

"It is times like this that the best of our community comes out," the BBC quoted Bhupinder Singh, a volunteer handling the donations, as saying.

"This is when you find out how good it is to live in England and how good it is to be a Londoner."

The Guardian reported that charity workers and volunteers providing aid for the affected people were part of a huge relief effort. But residents were angry over a lack of coordination from the local Council and other authorities.

More than 1 million pounds was raised via online donations in just over 24 hours to help the displaced residents, the daily said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May promised there would be a proper investigation into the disaster, Xinhua reported.

At the moment, the government would focus on providing support to those who lost their homes and everything, May said.

Fire Commissioner Danny Cotton said: "Crews wearing breathing apparatus have been working tirelessly in extremely difficult conditions to rescue people and to bring this major fire under control."

Cotton said the cause of the fire was not known.

Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation Limited (KCTMO) is responsible for the management of nearly 10,000 properties on behalf of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the municipal authority, including the Grenfell tower block.

The residents of the block had earlier raised concerns about the placement of boilers and gas pipes, the absence of a building-wide fire alarm or sprinkler system as well as piles of rubbish being dumped and causing a fire risk.

A similar blaze in 2009 in a block of flats in south claimed six lives.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, June 15 2017. 14:36 IST