Grenfell Tower fire victims 'may never be identified' as death toll rises to 17

  • Police say they may never be able to identify the bodies from the Grenfell Tower fire.
  • At least 17 people died in fire. A further 69 were injured, with 17 in critical condition.
  • Emergency services are searching the building for a third day.
  • Authorities say it is unlikely they will find any more survivors.
  • Theresa May ordered a full public inquiry.
  • Specialist sniffer dogs are on the scene to identify victims in the ashes.
  • The Queen has issued a statement offering condolences to victims and praise to firefighters.
  • Families and friends make desperate appeals for people trapped in building.

LONDON — The Metropolitan Police warned that they may never be able to identify all the bodies of those who died in the catastrophic fire that ripped through Grenfell Tower, a 24-story residential tower block in west London.

The death toll has risen to 17 and 69 others were injured, with 17 in critical care. But emergency services are spending a third day searching for bodies in the burned out building and friends and families of those who lived in Grenfell are still missing.

Since the police are still searching for bodies, the death toll is expected to rise and authorities from the fire services say that it is unlikely they will find any more survivors.

Earlier this week, the London Fire Brigade was called to the fire in Kensington at 12:54 a.m. (BST) and at least 40 fire engines turned up to the scene and 200 firefighters spent nearly a while day tackling the flames.

At least 40 fire engines and 200 firefighters responded to the blaze at Grenfell Tower and have been working since the early hours of the morning. Steve Apter, director of safety and assurance for London Fire Brigade, said firefighters will continue to work through the night at the scene.

“Several hundred” people would have been in the block when the fire broke out, according to Kensington and Chelsea council.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared it as a “major incident,” while Commissioner Cotton told reporters: “In my 29 years as a firefighter, I have never, ever seen anything on this scale.”

Who is to blame?

Prime Minister Theresa May ordered full public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster and said it was right that “this terrible tragedy is properly investigated.” It follows her visiting the scene in west London on Thursday morning.

“We need to know what happened. We need to have an explanation for this. We owe that to the families, to the people who have lost loved ones, friends, and the homes in which they lived,” the PM added. “People deserve answers, the inquiry will give them.”

However May and several of a her closest cabinet ministers and aides are being blamed for the fire:

  • An investigation could also 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.
  • Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also faces questions over his decision to slash London’s fire service while being the Mayor of London. Johnson presided over the closure of 10 fire stations and the removal of 27 fire engines, despite previously promising not to remove them.
  • Residents group Grenfell Action Group blogged about the incident and said it had “posted numerous warnings in recent years about the very poor fire safety standards.” It added: “All our warnings fell on deaf ears.”
  • Kensington and Chelsea council — 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.

May has also been heavily criticised for her approach towards the victims. May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn both visited the scene of the Grenfell Tower disaster on Thursday, but many have pointed to the differences in their time at the site.

NOW WATCH: What it’s like living in North Korea — according to a North Korean defector

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.