London fire: 58 confirmed or presumed dead after Grenfell Tower disaster | News | DW | 17.06.2017
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London fire: 58 confirmed or presumed dead after Grenfell Tower disaster

London police said it would take weeks to recover and identify all the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has admitted support for families on the ground was not good enough.

Police said on Saturday that at least 58 people had been confirmed or were assumed to have died in this week's blaze at the Grenfell Tower block. 

Commander Stuart Cundy said "my heart goes out to those affected."  He promised an exhaustive investigation into the fire which would include scrutiny of the renovation works on the block which some experts believe may have left the building more vulnerable to the catastrophic blaze.

The death toll had previously stood at 30 and officials added that it would likely take weeks for all the bodies to be recovered and some may never be identified.

Nach dem Grenfell-Feuer in London (Picture alliance/abaca/K. Green)

The 24-storey residential tower was engulfed in flames in the early hours of Wednesday

Financial aid

British Prime Minister Theresa May sought to quell growing anger over the deadly high-rise London fire by announcing Saturday a financial aid package to help victims with housing, food and clothing.

May, whose political position was already weakened by a poor showing in parliamentary elections last week, announced the government would immediately provide 5 million pounds ($6.39 million, 5.7 million euros) to help victims of the fire.

"Government is making money available, we're ensuring that we're going to get to the bottom of what's happened, we will ensure that people are rehoused," the prime minister said. "But we need to make sure that that actually happens."

 Local anger began building Wednesday as the 24-story residential Grenfell Tower block caught fire and was consumed by flames in a matter of minutes. Some 600 people were living in the tower's 120 apartments.

 

Visitors at 10 Downing Street.

On Saturday, May met for two hours with 15 survivors and community leaders at her official residence at 10 Downing Street in London. She said after the meeting that there have been "huge frustrations" in the community as people tried to get information.

"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," she said.

One of her closest allies, Damian Green, defended May's seemingly aloof response to the tragedy.

"The prime minister is distraught about what has happened," said Green, who was appointed May's deputy in the wake of the general election.

"We're all desperately sad, we're all angry, but of course none of us as angry as those who were directly affected, " Green said. "I absolutely get why they're angry."

Queen's birthday and somber mood

Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth II observed a minute of silence, along with her husband, Prince Philip, before the annual parade marking her official birthday. Earlier in the day, the 91-year-old monarch described the country's mood as "somber" but insisted that Britain remained resolute during a difficult time.

England London Queen Elizabeth besucht das Westway Sports Centre (picture-alliance/empics/D. Lipinski)

Queen Elizabeth II visited a temporary shelter for those made homeless by the fire

In addition to the deadly fire, Britain has suffered three terror attacks in recent months.

"It is difficult to escape a very somber national mood," Elizabeth said in a message. "The country has witnessed a succession of terrible tragedies."

"Put to the test, the United Kingdom has been resolute in the face of adversity," the queen wrote in her message. "United in our sadness, we are equally determined, without fear or favor, to support all those rebuilding lives so horribly affected by injury and loss."

bik/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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