Death toll expected to rise in London tower block catastrophe, as Theresa May promises investigation

  • Grenfell Tower death toll expected to rise on Thursday morning.
  • Theresa May promises “proper” investigation after blaze raged for 24 hours.
  • Families and friends make desperate appeals for people trapped in building.
  • Woman posted Facebook Live at height of blaze.

LONDON — The death toll in the Grenfell Tower disaster is expected to rise from the 12 fatalities confirmed on Wednesday, as firefighters were still tackling the blaze 24 hours after the building set alight.

Fire crew have been searching the 24-storey west London residential building in a bid to find any other victims, as families and friends make desperate appeals for people who were trapped in the inferno.

At least 12 people are known to have lost their lives, police said on Wednesday. A further 69 were injured, with 18 in a critical condition.

Firefighters were called to the residential tower at 12:54 a.m. (BST) on Wednesday, at a time when “several hundred” people were thought to have been inside. The fire is now all but extinguished and there are not thought to be any survivors inside.

Theresa May promises full investigation

Prime Minister Theresa May has promised a full investigation into the blaze. The cause of the fire is not yet known, but residents repeatedly warned about the building’s fire safety.

“There are people tonight who have no home to go to, they have lost absolutely everything, so our focus must be on support to them,” May said in a statement from Downing Street.

“In due course, when the scene is secure, when it’s possible to identify the cause of this fire, then of course there will be proper investigation and if there are any lessons to be learnt they will be, and action will be taken.”

Cladding installed during a £10 million renovation of the building last year is likely to be a particular area of focus. Fire experts believe it could have contributed to the rapid spread of the flames. Fire safety advice and the tower block’s fire alarm could also be areas of interest. Residents said they were told to stay in their flats and some said they could not hear the alarms.

Fire safety advice and the tower block’s fire alarm system could also be areas of interest. Residents said they were told to stay in their flats and some said they could not hear the alarms.

An investigation could look into the role of May’s newly-appointed Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell. The former housing minister promised a review of building regulations covering fire safety, but was never published.

Desperate search for missing people

Firefighters have searched the entire building and 65 people were rescued. But there is now a desperate search for people missing in the fire. Labour MP David Lammy Khadija Saye has appealed for information about local artist Khadija Saye.

Witnesses claimed that people were jumping from some of the lower floors or creating makeshift rope ladders in an effort to escape the blaze. A witness even reported a baby being dropped into the arms of a member of the public from the tenth floor of the building.

One woman, Rania Ibrham, posted a Facebook Live video from within the building during the blaze at around 1.40 a.m. (BST). She is still missing after the fire.

“Rania Ibrham my friend is missing from the grenfill tower (sic), if you have seen her or have any news on her pls contact me,” he friend Rahmana Rashid posted on Facebook.

This video contains footage some may find distressing.

Aid efforts for those left homeless

Aid efforts for those left homeless by the fire continued through the night. Community centres, churches and mosques in the area have been inundated with donations of food, water and clothing.

Celebrities have also offered support. Chef Jamie Oliver offered food and drink at the Notting Hill branch of his Italian restaurant chain. Adele was also reportedly on the scene on Wednesday night, comforting residents.

This story is developing.

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