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Fire anger grows amid fears death toll may soar

16 June 2017 National News

Anger at politicians and the council over the Grenfell Tower disaster is growing – as the police officer in charge said he hopes the death toll does not reach triple figures.

A ‘Justice for Grenfell’ rally is being planned for this evening, with more than 1,700 people on Facebook saying they will march on Westminster.

Seventeen people have so far been confirmed dead as the fire service continues its room by room search, with six bodies removed and 11 still to be retrieved.

But that could rise considerably.

The fire service says “a good half” of the building has yet to be searched in detail and many relatives are still desperately looking for loved ones.

Image: Missing: Gloria Trevisan and Marco Gottardi had lived in the tower for three months

The top storeys may need reinforcing before firefighters can search them

Image: The top storeys may need reinforcing before firefighters can search them

The upper floors in particular may need shoring up before firefighters can safely get into the flats.

Police – who have launched an investigation into potential criminal wrongdoing – have warned the search could take months.

“It may be that ultimately some victims remain unidentified,” said Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy.

“For those of us that have been down there, it’s pretty emotional, so I hope it is not triple figures, but I can’t be drawn on the numbers,” he added.

Civil engineering student Mohammed Alhajali phoned a friend to say goodbye

Image: Civil engineering student Mohammed Alhajali phoned a friend to say goodbye

Syrian refugee of the disaster.

Theresa May visited the west London estate on Thursday, but has been attacked for not meeting residents.

The Prime Minister, , only met emergency services.

Theresa May is briefed by the emergency services at the scene in north Kensington

Image: Theresa May has been criticised for not meeting the public during her visit

Former cabinet minister , saying she “didn’t use her humanity”.

One furious local woman said: “She really should have listened to people’s anger – that’s not a prime minister ‘for the people’ as the Tories said – not at all. Nobody here was spoken to.”

Conservative minister Tobias Ellwood – who tried to save PC Keith Palmer during the Westminster Bridge attack defended the PM and said it was due to “security concerns”.

Sadiq Khan was heckled during his own visit to the charred block.

He faced a difficult moment when a seven-year-old bluntly asked him: “How many children died? What are you going to do about it?”

Child questions the Mayor of London following tower block fire which left many dead

Video: London Mayor responds to seven-year-old boy

London’s mayor said an interim report into the disaster should be published this summer.

“We need answers now,” he said. “We can’t afford to wait a number of years.”

Jeremy Corbyn was photographed meeting volunteers, and with his arm around people when he visited the 24-storey tower.

The Labour leader has suggested luxury Kensington apartments lying empty should be used to house people without a place to stay.

“The many residents I met today are very angry,” the Labour leader said.

“Their concerns about the building were not responded to and their questions were not answered.”


Video: Rising resident anger over circumstances leading up to tower blaze

That anger stems from repeated safety concerns raised to the council over a number of years by residents.

Many blame the cladding added last year for allowing the fire to spread with frightening speed – witnesses said it raced up the building in as little as 15 minutes.

The material believed to have been used for the refurbishment has been banned in high-rise buildings in the US, according to the Times.

Locals also told Sky News of a gas installation they say left exposed pipes in the tower’s stairwell, with a witness saying he saw blue flames shooting out.


Video: Residents ‘warned council’ of industry fears over cladding

The lack of a sprinkler system has surprised many but the leader of Kensington and Chelsea council said not all residents were in favour in case they delayed the refurbishment.

Experts estimate they could have been added at a cost of £200,000 during the £10m building works.

But Nick Paget-Brown told BBC Newsnight: “Many residents felt that we needed to get on with the installation of new hot water systems, new boilers and that trying to retrofit more would delay the building and that sprinklers aren’t the answer.”

Meanwhile, the huge charity effort to help those affected shows no sign of letting up.

JustGiving said on Thursday afternoon that £1.6m had been raised for those affected by the fire.

With local charities and community groups inundated with clothes and food, music mogul

He tweeted: “We hope to confirm a record tomorrow which will raise some money for the many people affected by this tragedy. Making calls tonight.”

Comedian Al Murray has also said he will donate all profits from his two shows in London this weekend.

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