Authorities in London have confirmed on Friday that at least 30 people have been killed and dozens more who remain unaccounted for are feared dead in the Grenfell Tower fire in London. Firefighters are still searching for bodies inside the building in the midst of public outrage over the use of cladding faulted for spreading the flames.
Police commander Stuart Cundy said: “We know that at least 30 people have died as a result of the fire. I do believe the number will increase. “
Authorities have started a criminal investigation but there was nothing that would indicate at this point "that the fire had been started deliberately".
The last flames had finally been put out, two days after the fire broke out in the night between Tuesday and Wednesday in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower located in a working-class enclave of the wealthy London borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Local media reports say more than 70 people are unaccounted for, although it was not established yet whether some of those were among the bodies recovered so far.
Police have warned some of the victims may never be identified because of the state of the remains due to the gravity of the fire. Some of the upper floors remain inaccessible to humans due to concerns over the stability of the structure. Firefighters were utilizing drones and sniffer dogs to search the buiding.
Cundy said one of the victims was a person who died in hospital. Twenty-four injured survivors continued to be treated, 12 of them in critical care.
Relatives of the victims, and of the missing are becoming desperate in looking for their loved ones, plastering their photos in the surroundings of the ill-fated building.
Queen Elizabeth II and her grandson Prince William visited a community center where some of the survivors are being temporarily housed, as anger grows among local residents on the allegations that fire safety concerns were ignored for years.
The government has ordered a judge-led inquiry into Wednesday's disaster.
Communities and Local Government Minister Sajid Javid told BBC radio that: "Something's gone wrong here, something's gone drastically wrong.”
Javid said inspections of similar buildings had been ordered, giving particular attention to the modern cladding used to beautify and add an insulation layer to ageing concrete and steel structures.
Javid said: "We need to do whatever it takes to make people that live in those properties safe: that's either make the properties safe or find some other accommodation, it has to be done.”
Mayor Sadiq Khan had been receiving the brunt of the people’s anger over the tragedy. A young boy asked hin when he visited a neighborhood. "How many children died? What are you going to do about it? The fire forced residents to flee through black smoke down the single stairwell, jump out of windows or even drop their children to safety.”
Questions are growing about how the flames spread so quickly, engulfing the tower's 120 apartments in what fire chiefs said was an unprecedented blaze
The focus of criticism is on the cladding fitted to external walls of the 1974 tower as part of a £8.7 million ($11 million, 9.9 million euros) refit completed last year. However, the cladding had a plastic core and was similar to that used by high-rise buildings in France, the United Arab Emirates and Australia, which had also suffered big fires that spread.
The Times reported that the type of cladding used on the building was banned in US buildings taller than 40 feet (12.2 metres) because of fire safety fears.
Harley Facades, which fitted the panels, said in a statement: "At this time, we are not aware of any link between the fire and the exterior cladding."
In addition to debate over the cladding, questions have also been raised over why there was no sprinkler system in the Grenfell Tower which could have helped stop the fire spreading, or any central smoke alarm system that would have woken sleeping residents.