58 people missing and presumed dead in Grenfell Tower tragedy, police say
PUBLISHED: 08:26 18 June 2017 | UPDATED: 08:49 18 June 2017
Police have said at least 58 people died or are missing, presumed dead, following the devastating fire at the Grenfell Tower in London.
Commander Stuart Cundy, of the Metropolitan Police, warned the death toll could rise further as he formally identified the first victim as 23-year-old Syrian refugee Mohammad Alhajali.
At 58 casualties, the tragedy makes it the deadliest blaze in the capital since the Second World War.
Mr Cundy said: “Sadly, at this time there are 58 people who we have been told were in the Grenfell Tower on the night that are missing, and therefore sadly, I have to assume that they are dead.
“That number 58 may change. I really hope it won’t, but it may increase.
“My commitment to families is that as soon as we can, we will locate and recover their loved ones.
“The reason we had to pause the search and recovery yesterday was for the safety of our staff.
“We do not want another fatality arising out of this tragedy.”
More than 250 firefighters tackled the fire at the 24-storey tower block in north Kensington on Wednesday, June 14.
Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered more boots on the ground after labelling the support given to families in the aftermath of the fore as ‘not good enough’.
Victims met the Prime Minister at Number 10 on Saturday evening and man representing the group said they had spoken about their “demands and what we expect”.
Mrs May said she had fixed a deadline of three weeks for everybody affected to be rehoused locally.
She added: “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.”
Mr Cundy said the police investigation into the blaze would look at the building and its refurbishment in 2016 and vowed to prosecute people if there was evidence.
The police are appealing to anyone with pictures or videos of the blaze to hand them in, as they may help establish not only where and how the fire started, but also how it spread.
Anger flared in the Kensington community over the weekend - with many protests taking place across the capital - as some accused the authorities of withholding information and responding inadequately.
Mr Cundy said: “The investigation will be exhaustive. My intention is that it will help provide answers.
“If, as we investigate, we identify issues that are a risk to public safety, we will not be waiting until the end of the investigation before we provide that information to the appropriate authorities.
“If there are any safety issues that we and experts that we will be using identify, we will share that immediately.”
Services are set to take place across the country today to remember those who lost their lives.