Presumed Death Toll Nearly Doubles After London Fire

People at an event during London Writers' Week 2016

"This new team is now leading the recovery and response to the Grenfell Tower fire, which has been one of the most tragic and horrendous events ever seen". He says trust in the authorities is "falling through the floor".

"There is considerable damage within Grenfell Tower", he said.

A solemn Queen Elizabeth II marked a minute of silence Saturday for victims of the London high-rise inferno that killed at least 30 people as exhausted firefighters continued their grim search for more bodies.

There are questions about why the block was not fitted with sprinklers or a central smoke alarm, as well as whether the recent refurbishment, including the use of cladding that was blamed for worsening previous building fires in France, the United Arab Emirates and Australia, helped fuel the flames.

In other developments, a company that renovated the tower denied that cladding on the building was banned in the United Kingdom after comments made by Chancellor Philip Hammond.

Trade Minister Greg Hands said Sunday the government is carrying out an "urgent inspection" of the roughly 2,500 similar tower blocks across Britain to assess their safety, while an opposition lawmaker urged the government to quickly secure any documents related to the Grenfell renovation for a criminal investigation.

Announcing the new figure, police commander Stuart Cundy said it could still change again but not by as much.

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Although police did not speculate on the eventual number of fatalities, local community sources say at least 70 from Grenfell Tower are still missing, including entire families.

Dozens of people have been reported missing since last Wednesday's early-morning blaze that struck while many who live in the building's 120 apartments were asleep.

The fire triggered both sorrow and outrage, as residents described the futility of their earlier attempts to have the building's safety issues addressed, particularly its fire escape plan.

Having ordered an emergency aid package for the fire survivors and a full public inquiry into the incident, Prime Minister Theresa May held a meeting Saturday with some of the survivors and family members of victims at a government office.

She tweeted on the afternoon after the fire: "Can't get through to hospitals for info on my niece and the helpline is useless as they only take info and are not able to give information".

In addition, British health authorities will provide long-term bereavement counselling for those who lost loved ones in the tragedy.

In a message to mark her official birthday, she said: "Today is traditionally a day of celebration".

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