Some Grenfell Tower disaster victims may never be identified, police warn

Mariem Elgwahry

Searching a London tower block gutted in a huge fire on Wednesday might take months, a police chief said on Thursday, adding he hoped the death toll would not rise from 17 to "triple figures".

Sajid Javid said there would be immediate action following the early conclusions from an investigative report into the blaze which has left at least 17 people dead. Police say no one stuck inside the building will have survived.

A criminal investigation has been launched in the wake of the fatal fire amid increasing political pressure that those involved in the building's recent redevelopment should face prosecution.

A "Justice for Grenfell" rally is being planned for Friday evening, with more than 1,700 people on Facebook saying they will march on Westminster.

Firefighters continue to work putting out the deadly fire in London.

Rania Ibrham, 30, livestreamed a video on the social media site of her at the front door of her 24th floor apartment in the Grenfell Tower as fire consumed the building.

Aluminium-composite panels used to cover the facades of the high-rise were quickly identified by onlookers as appearing to help the fire take hold.

There are also questions about safety advice given to residents.

A lawyer for the family of an Italian woman missing in the London high-rise fire says she told her mom in a final call: "Flames are in the living room".

A number of politicians had raised concerns with the Housing Executive after received calls from anxious residents in areas like the New Lodge in Belfast.

"People deserve answers. The inquiry will give them", she said. "And when they raise fire safety, when they raise life-threatening issues, they need to be listened to..."

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"It is also heartening to see the incredible generosity of community volunteers rallying to help those affected by this bad event", the queen said.

Emma Dent Coad, the newly elected Labour MP for Kensington, where Grenfell Tower is located, called the fire "an unprecedented disaster".

During planning in 2012, the building service engineering company Max Fordham advised that one option in the refurbishment was to remove "fire stopping" systems temporarily in order to install new heating pipes.

The department of communities and local government said that it had not ignored the recommendations, but that the work was ongoing.

During the emergency session Mr Corbyn said he "feels very angry" at the loss of life in the tower block where the fire precautions did not work.

"There are obvious questions" about the Grenfell refurbishment and whether it led to the fire spreading, he said.

Councilor Nicholas Paget-Brown told the BBC that sprinklers were not fitted inside the building during a 2015/16 refurbishment "because that would have delayed and made the refurbishment of the block more disruptive".

A spokesman for police said it was "standard procedure that detectives from the Homicide and Major Crime Command lead enquiries" into the blaze.

Fire safety experts have expressed alarm at the way the fire tore across a new cladding recently installed on the building.

"We have also arranged meetings with the manufacturers of the cladding used on the tower blocks to receive extra reassurance. I could see the flames behind, there's a new cladding system put on the outsides that looks like a new skin, there's an air gap an insulation behind that, to me that looks like a fantastic chimney for the fire to rage around".

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