Police fear Kensington flat blaze claimed 58 lives – and number could still rise

Police fear that 60 people – approximately one in ten of all who lived there – perished in the devastating fire that engulfed Grenfell Tower in Kensington.

Service dogs from the Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade have joined the grim search for bodies, with officials saying the priority is to ‘bring out those who are still in there’.

Metropolitan Police commander Stuart Cundy confirmed 30 people had died in the fire and a further 28 were missing, presumed dead.

He added the number could still rise as the information was based only on the number of people they believe were in the tower when it caught fire.

‘The fire was truly horrific. For me this is just a human tragedy,” he said. “It’s important for families that we do absolutely everything in there to find their loved ones. We have gone to the top of the tower.

“I really hope it won’t, but the numbers we have given may increase. Our focus has been on those that we know were in Grenfell Tower.

“However, there may be other people who were in there on the night that others were not aware were there. That is also an absolute priority for the investigation, to establish who they may be.”

Fire fighters have now surveyed every floor of the tower to assess its structural integrity and their search for bodies is expected to take weeks.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said: “This is a large building, there will be a large amount of building work required internally.

“Before we do that, we are going to utilise some specialist dog training teams that we have, that will go through the building and the surrounding area looking for any identification of people.”

Commander Cundy also confirmed an investigation could lead to prosecutions, with angry local residents again calling for ‘justice’ for those who perished in the fire, the worst in London since World War II.

He added: “The investigation will identify any criminal offence that has been committed. It will be wide-ranging. It will go to establish the answers of what happened in the fire and how it spread. It will look at the building itself, it will look at the refurbishment as well.

“Our criminal investigation will identify any criminal offences that have been committed. Wherever we can, we will bring people to justice if there is evidence.”

Protesters again gathered outside the gates of Downing Street on Saturday, slamming the response of both the local council and government to the tragedy.

Prime minister Theresa May – whose handling of the situation has attracted the most criticism – released a statement after meeting with 15 victims of the tragedy, volunteers and community leaders.

“I have heard the concerns and I have ordered immediate action across the board to help victims’ relatives and the survivors. People lost everything in the fire and were left in only the clothes they were wearing,” she said.

“The response of the emergency services, NHS and the community has been heroic. But, frankly, the support on the ground for families who needed help or basic information in the initial hours after this appalling disaster was not good enough.

“I can confirm that a £5m emergency fund that I announced yesterday is now being distributed on the ground so people can buy clothes, food and other essentials. If more funding is required, it will be provided.”

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