Themorningbellbd.com desk, June 14: At least six people are dead after a huge fire raged through the night at a west London tower block, and police expect that number to rise.
Firefighters rescued many people and are still trying to put the fire out in the 24-storey block 12 hours on.
Police say there may still be people in the building who are unaccounted for.
During the night, eyewitnesses said they saw lights – thought to be mobile phones or torches – flashing at the top of the block of flats, and trapped residents coming to their windows – some holding children.
It is understood that “several hundred” people would have been in the block when the fire broke out shortly after midnight, most of them sleeping.
Commander Stuart Cundy, of the Metropolitan Police, said the recovery operation would be “complex and lengthy”, and the number of fatalities was expected to rise.
He declined to give any details of the number of people who may be missing.
He said it was likely to be some time before police could identify the victims, adding that it was too early to speculate on the cause of the fire.
An emergency number – 0800 0961 233 – has been set up for anyone concerned about friends or family.
More than 70 people have received treatment in hospital. At least 20 are known to be in a critical condition.
At 13:00 BST, Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said firefighters expected to be on the scene for at least another 24 hours and she would not speculate about the cause of the blaze.
She said there were concerns that people were still inside the tower and she urged all residents to make sure they had reported themselves to police so that the authorities know they are safe.
Prime Minister Theresa May is “deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life”, said Downing Street.
Later, police and fire minister Nick Hurd will chair a cross-party meeting to look at how the government can assist the emergency services and local authorities.
The London Fire Brigade said a structural engineer had checked the building and determined it was not in danger of collapse and that rescue teams were safe to be inside.
Initially, it was feared that the building, which appears to be gutted, could collapse.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was devastated by the horrific scenes, attended by more than 250 firefighters and 100 ambulance medics.
Questions will need to be answered over the safety of tower blocks, he told BBC Radio.
“We can’t have a situation where people’s safety is put at risk because of bad advice being given or if it is the case, as has been alleged, of tower blocks not being properly serviced or maintained,” he said.
Matt Wrack, of the Fire Brigades Union said something had clearly gone badly wrong with fire prevention procedures at the building.
Firefighters would normally fight a fire in a tower block from the inside, going up the fire escape, and fighting using the internal dry-rising mains, he said, but that’s not been possible in this case.
Construction firm Rydon said recent building work which it carried out on the block “met all required building control, fire regulation and health and safety standards”.
Appeals are being made on social media for news of missing friends and relatives, who might have been caught in the blaze.