Police confirm 79 people presumed dead in London's devastating Grenfell Tower fire

Police confirm 79 people presumed dead in London's devastating Grenfell Tower fire
British police increased the presumed death toll from the Grenfell Tower fire yet again on Monday, suggesting seventy-nine people are now dead or missing and presumed dead.
3 min read
19 June, 2017
Hundreds lived in the residential block [AFP]

Seventy-nine people are dead or missing and presumed dead following a devastating blaze in a London tower block last week, police said on Monday, as Britain held a minute's silence for the victims of the devastating inferno.

"As of this morning, I'm afraid to say there are now 79 people that we believe are either dead or missing and I sadly have to presume are dead," police commander Stuart Cundy told reporters.

Only five people had been formally identified so far by police, he said, after officers earlier warned that some may never be identified due to the condition of the remains.

Police had earlier put the toll at 58 presumed dead.

Cundy said the search and recovery operation was ongoing in the burnt-out 24-storey tower.

"This is an incredible distressing time for families and they have my commitment that we will do this as quickly as we possibly can," he said.

Cundy promised an "exhaustive" criminal investigation into the fire that would also look at a major refurbishment of the building completed last year.

"We will go where the evidence may take us," and do everything possible "to ensure that those responsible will be brought to justice," he said.

"If I identify... an issue that is a risk to public safety, we will be sharing that immediately with the relevant authorities," he added.

Cundy warned that the toll of 79 people could change.

"I believe there may be people who were in Grenfell Tower that people may not know were missing and may not have realised they were in there on the night.

"Equally, there may be people who thankfully may have managed to escape the fire and for whatever reason have not let their family or friends or police know," he said.

‘Not enough’

Meanwhile, almost one week after the tragedy, Downing Street announced families affected by the devastating London tower block inferno last will receive £5,500 from the British government.

Residents will be given £500 in cash to help with immediate needs and are expected to receive the remaining funds via bank payments from Monday, reports said.

On Friday, the PM announced a £5 million emergency fund to assist the residents of the now-charred Grenfell Tower, shortly after meeting survivors for the first time in Downing Street.

But community members, who have led initiatives to support those affected without help from the government in the days after the fire, slammed the move, suggesting “it is not enough”.

“We’ve raised more than that as a community,” one protester told the BBC during a protest outside the local Kensington hall.

“We’ve done everything on our own, £5 million is nothing, it is not enough,” she maintained.

Others have compared the “measly” amount to the PM’s spending of £143 million on her “failed narcissistic” election campaign, referring to Britain’s shocking poll results on June 8, while some even noted Buckingham Palace’s upcoming £360 million refurbishment project.