Grenfell Tower Fire Victim Count Increases, Police Investigate Possible Crimes

London police authorities have revealed that the number of people presumed dead in the Grenfell Tower fire has increased to at least 79.

Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan Police said that 16 bodies had been recovered from the 24-storey building in west London, but stressed that although investigators had reached the top of the tower the hard search could take weeks or longer because of the level of damage to the structure.

Controversy is also erupting over the Grenfell Tower's exterior cladding, with two British ministers saying the cladding used in a recent renovation may have been banned under United Kingdom building regulations. The cause of the massive blaze is still under investigation, but anger has mounted in the community amid reports that the rain-screen cladding on the exterior of Grenfell Tower may have spread the flames.

"Sadly at this time there are 58 people who we were told were in Grenfell Tower on the night, who were missing, who I have to assume are dead".

Five of the victims have been formally identified so far, Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said, the Telegraph reported.

Vowing to be the "champion of the people", he said lessons must be learned from the tragedy, which is feared to have claimed the lives of at least 58 people.

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Cundy said the "complex" and "exhaustive" inquiry will focus on a range of issues including how the building was constructed, a recent refurbishment of it, how it is managed and maintained and fire safety measures.

He said police will release images and video from inside the tower tomorrow, pending the approval of Grenfell families. "I would like to reassure everybody that we will be looking at all criminal offences that might have been committed by any individual or any organisation", Cundy said.

A minute's silence was held at 11am across all Government buildings to remember victims and all those affected by the fire in north Kensington.

Shortly after Saturday's meeting, Downing Street released a strongly-worded statement in which the Prime Minister said support in the immediate aftermath of the fire "was not good enough".

The fire has prompted warnings about fire safety risks in many other council tower blocks built in the same era. The deadly blaze has mushroomed into a political crisis, testing the fragile government of Prime Minister Theresa May.

In addition, British health authorities will provide long-term bereavement counselling for those who lost loved ones in the tragedy. Cundy said emergency workers have now reached the top of the tower.

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