Live Updates: Officials Say They Can't Risk Another Grenfell Fire And Evacuate Five Towers
A fire tore through Grenfell Tower, north Kensington, shortly before 1am on Wednesday 14 June.
What We Know So Far
- Police say 79 people have been confirmed dead or are missing, presumed dead, after a fire tore through the Grenfell Tower block in north Kensington, London, on Wednesday 14 June.
- Speaking on Friday, 23 June, police said the fire originated in a faulty fridge-freezer. They added that tiles and insulation in the cladding failed safety tests. Manslaughter charges are being considered among other possible offences.
- Meanwhile, hundreds of residents from five other towers were evacuated Friday amid fire safety concerns.
- Theresa May announced a full public inquiry on Thursday afternoon, adding that "people deserve answers". Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called for the inquiry to publish an interim response this summer.
- Witnesses said they saw people jumping from the building, and survivors have described how they managed to flee the building.
- The building, constructed in 1974, is 24 storeys tall and contains 120 homes, according to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
- Residents' groups had issued numerous warnings in the past few years about the tower block's fire safety provisions. Read more here.
Thousands Of People In Five London Tower Blocks Are Being Evacuated Over Fire Safety Fears
Thousands of people in five London towers are being evacuated while authorities assess buildings clad in the same material that went up in flames during last week's deadly fire at Grenfell Tower.
Georgia Gould — a councillor and leader of the Camden Council — said in a statement Friday that the evacuations will last three to four weeks while officials "undertake urgent fire safety works." She did not say how many people would be affected, but the BBC reported that more than 800 homes are subject to evacuation.
"I know it's difficult, but Grenfell changes everything and I just don't believe we can take any risks with our resident's safety and I have to put them first," Gould added during a news conference.
Gould said that people will be moved into temporary housing, hotels, and the homes of family and friends.
Read more here.
—Jim Dalrymple II
14 high-rise buildings have failed cladding safety tests across the UK
The Communities and Local Government Department has said 14 high-rise buildings in nine local authorities have failed cladding tests.
Some of them are in Manchester, Camden, Plymouth, and Hounslow.
People with same fridge freezer model linked to the Grenfell fire asked to contact company
Hotpoint, the brand that makes fridges, freezers, and tumble driers is urging customers to contact the firm after investigators confirmed that one of its products was linked to the Grenfell tower fire.
Downing Street confirmed on Friday that experts are urgently testing the Hotpoint fridge-freezer model.
"The government has ordered an immediate examination of this unit by technical experts to establish the cause of the incident. This is a product which was manufactured between '06 and '09 and has not been subject to product recalls.
"This testing will establish whether further action is required," a spokesperson for the government said.
The model, FF175BP, does not feature on Hotpoint's website on its "safety notices" page.
Victims' families and survivors set to receive tens of thousands of pounds in charitable grants
Tens of thousands of pounds in charitable grants are set to be be made available to victims and families of victims in the Grenfell Tower disaster, as the donations from the public begin to be consolidated with support from the Charity Commission.
The next of kin of those who lost their lives when the fire tore through the flats will receive an initial £20,000 of charitable funds, the government announced on Friday.
Survivors of the tragedy will receive up to £10,000 if they were seriously injured, and another £10,000 will go to families as a "fresh start" grant after they are permanently rehoused.
The announcement comes after a joint approach was agreed to consolidate the £10 million raised by the public and make it available for victims next of kin and survivors of the fire. The is the first phase of joint funding and the government says there is more to follow.
Government refuses to say how many high-rise buildings have undergone safety checks
The government refused Friday morning to say how many of the 600 high-rise residential buildings covered in cladding in England have so far been through safety checks.
At a press briefing on Friday morning, a spokeswoman for Downing Street said figures for the number of samples that have been tested will be released Friday, but that the Department for Communities and Local Government is anxious about getting the figures right.
So far, the department has said that cladding from 11 high-rise buildings has failed urgent safety checks — but the failure rate on the tests is unknown because the officials won't give any indication of the number of samples they have so far tested.
As a result, it's impossible to judge at this point what percentage of the 600 tower blocks estimated to have used some form of cladding are a fire risk — and the scale of the potential problem that the authorities are dealing with.
Nor is it possible to say how long residents of those buildings will have to wait before they receive assurances that their buildings are fire-safe.
Asked by journalists why Downing Street wouldn't release the numbers, a spokeswoman said: "After yesterday's different figures being given out at different parts of the day, [DCLG] don't want that to happen again."
On Thursday, Number 10 initially said there were 600 high-rises in England covered in similar cladding to Grenfell. That was mistakenly reported by some outlets as meaning that 600 towers were covered in potentially combustible material. Later in the day, Number 10 rowed back on its earlier statement to say the 600 figure was for towers with any kind of cladding, not necessarily those with similar cladding to Grenfell.
On Friday, the government was more cautious about giving any figures. In addition to not saying how many samples had been tested, Downing Street had no answers to questions about the number of privately-owned residential buildings, hotels and hospitals that had cladding which may need to be safety-tested.
"[DCLG] wanted to be accurate," Downing Street's spokeswoman said. "They didn't feel that they could be quite accurate enough just in time for this briefing. We are absolutely totally committed to making sure that we give out transparent figures and as much information as possible, that's why we issued figures yesterday, but we want to be sure that's right. If that means you have to wait another hour or two, then you have to wait another hour or two. But those figures will emerge throughout today."
Police considering manslaughter charges after revealing cladding failed safety tests
Superintendent Fiona McCormack of the Metropolitan police has revealed that insulation and tiles on Grenfell Tower failed safety tests.
She added police are considering manslaughter charges in relation to the fire.
NHS England released latest Grenfell Tower patient figures
Nine people are still receiving hospital treatment following last week's Grenfell Tower disaster, according to the latest figures provided by NHS England.
Of those, three are in critical care.
Private tower block owners won't be forced to test for flammable cladding
Private sector owners of high-rise buildings will not be forced to test for cladding similar to that used in Grenfell Tower, the Department for Communities and Local Government has confirmed to BuzzFeed News.
While councils across the country are testing social housing tower blocks for the type of combustible material that is believe to have contributed to the speed the Grenfell blaze spread, testing in the private sector will be on a "voluntary" basis.
In the House of Commons on Thursday, Theresa May said she had instructed local councils to conduct urgent tests "as a precaution", and some had already found flammable material. Downing Street later said that this involved three buildings so far, while around 600 have been identified as potentially having the cladding.
The prime minister told MPs that private landlords also had a "legal obligation to provide safe buildings. And if they cannot do that, we expect alternative accommodation to be provided. We cannot and will not expect people to live in unsafe homes." She "encouraged" them to do the same.
Tests reveal combustible cladding has been found on tower blocks across the UK.
Urgent tests ordered after the Grenfell Tower disaster, in which at least 79 people died, have found combustible material on residential tower blocks across the country.
Theresa May told the House of Commons on Thursday that all local authorities with tall residential buildings were ordered to send samples of cladding on the outside of buildings to the Department of Communities and Local Government for testing.
The cladding on Grenfell Tower, which was made from aluminium and polyethylene, is thought to have contributed to the swift spread of the blaze by fire.
"The house should of course be careful in speculating on what caused this fire but as a precaution the government has arranged to test cladding in all relevant tower blocks," May said.
"Shortly before I came to this chamber I was informed that a number of these tests have come back as combustible. The relevant local authorities and fire authorities have been informed and as I speak they are taking all possible steps to ensure the buildings are safe and to inform affected residents.
"Landlords have a legal obligation to provide safe buildings. And if they cannot do that, we expect alternative accommodation to be provided. We cannot and will not expect people to live in unsafe homes."
Corbyn: Grenfell Tower shows working-class people being ignored
PM says tests show some tower block cladding is "combustible"; no Grenfell residents will face immigration checks
Delivering a statement to the House of Commons, Theresa May said that residents displaced or affected by the Grenfell Tower fire would not be subjected to immigration checks.
Describing it as "one of the most unimaginable tragedies our country has seen in many years," the prime minister also said that the government has arranged for all cladding in relevant tower blocks to be tested in light of the disaster.
She added that tests so far show that "a number" are "combustible".
May also reiterated that residents would not be moved out of the area if they did not want to be, and said that the developers of the luxury Kensington apartment block where some Grenfell residents will be rehoused had been provided to the government at cost price.
She said it was "right" that the chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea council had resigned.
Council chief executive steps down after criticism
Kensington and Chelsea council chief executive Nicholas Holgate said he will resign after criticism of the local response to residents affected by the fire.
"Despite my wish to have continued, in very challenging circumstances, to lead on the executive responsibilities of the Council, I have decided that it is better to step down from my role, once an appropriate successor has been appointed," he said in a statement.
Holgate added that he had been told to resign by the secretary of state for community and local government.
"There is a huge amount still to do for the victims of the fire, requiring the full attention of this Council and many others," Holgate said. "If I stayed in post, my presence would be a distraction."
Council leader Nicholas Paget-Brown said in a statement that he was grateful for Holgate's eight years of service. The council will work in "a new way with different partners" going forward, he added.
" Like everyone else, the Council has been grief stricken by the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire and has sought to provide the greatest level of support we can to victims," he said. "That is a huge challenge and Nicholas has led from the front in seeking to do this." –Claudia Koerner
Theresa May has apologised for the Grenfell Tower response in parliament
The Grenfell Tower victims will be rehoused in a luxury apartment complex
The government has acquired 68 apartments in a luxury complex in Kensington to permanently house the Grenfell Tower fire survivors, communities secretary Sajid Javid announced on Wednesday afternoon.
The newly built social housing, which is part of a £2 billion luxury complex, has been bought by the City of London Corporation as part of the response to the tragedy, and handed to Kensington & Chelsea council.
The price of private homes in the luxury complex starts at £1.5 million and includes a 24-hour concierge, swimming pool, and private cinema.
The announcement comes after the government's promise to ensure survivors from Grenfell Tower will be rehoused in the local area.
The Queen just announced that a new body will be set up to support victims of tragedies like the Grenfell fire
Today's Queen's Speech announced that the government will launch a public inquiry into the Grenfell tower fire and establish a new advocate for people who have lost loved ones in public tragedies.
The Queen set out that a full public inquiry into the disaster, in which 79 people have been confirmed dead or are missing, presumed dead, would be launched to "ascertain the causes and ensure the appropriate lessons are learnt".
She also confirmed that government would take "measures to introduce an independent public advocate, who will act for bereaved families after a public disaster and support them at public inquests".
Plans for an advocate were first introduced in the Conservative manifesto, which said a body would be established to "ensure that the pain and suffering of the Hillsborough families over the last 20 years is not repeated".
10 people are still in hospital following the Grenfell disaster
One week on from the Grenfell Tower fire, there are 10 people still receiving treatment across four London hospitals, figures released by NHS England show.
Of those 10, six are in critical care.
Yesterday, the clinical director of King's College hospital said some patients could take weeks or even months to recover.
Kensington and Chelsea council leader says no Grenfell survivors have been offered accommodation outside of London
Nick Paget-Brown, the under-fire leader of Kensington and Chelsea council, has released a statement marking one week since the Grenfell Tower disaster, and said no residents of the building have been offered accommodation outside of London.
Rumours that some residents had been offered housing as far afield as Lancashire have circulated on social media in the days since the blaze.
"The government has committed to re-housing all residents within three weeks of the disaster and as close to the Grenfell Tower as possible," Paget-Brown said on his blog. "We are committed to helping deliver that promise, and no residents have been offered accommodation outside of central London."
He also said that another centre specifically for the friends and family of those who died or are missing would be opening soon, with more details forthcoming in the next 24 hours.
You can read Paget-Brown's full statement here:
For many of us, Wednesday 21 June will be a day of remembrance for the victims and the residents of Grenfell Tower, as we mark a week since the start of the tragic fire. We remain heart-broken by the appalling loss of life and we are doing everything we can to help the families of the victims and the residents to get the help they need as they try to rebuild their lives. We have now allocated a social worker to every household from Grenfell Tower, plus other families who live near the tower and that have been affected. They have been visiting families since last week and will be a key support for families going forward. As of yesterday (20 June), a total of 250 households had been placed in temporary accommodation pending permanent rehousing. The Government has committed to re-housing all residents within three weeks of the disaster and as close to the Grenfell Tower as possible. We are committed to helping deliver that promise, and no residents have been offered accommodation outside of central London. The community assistance centre at Westway has been in operation since last Wednesday morning. In addition to the centre at Westway, which will continue to offer support to the community, we will also be opening a further centre specifically for the friends and family of the victims and the missing, details of which will be provided in the next 24 hours. We would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to the community, the Emergency Services, hospitals, charities, volunteer groups, the Government and neighbouring local authorities and to our own teams who have been working tirelessly to try and help all those affected by this terrible event. We are enormously grateful for their support. We are deeply sorry for all those affected and today we will remember the victims and stand with the residents and our community.
The Grenfell Tower response team says survivors are not being rehoused thousands of miles away
The newly formed Grenfell Response Team and Kensington and Chelsea council have denied reports that residents are being rehoused of miles away from their homes and are being declared "intentionally homeless" should they refuse to move out of the borough.
In a video that has been shared widely on social media, one survivor says he's heard of a man who was taken out of a hotel and sent to live in Preston:
A hospital treating victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster said patients could face several months of recovery
A hospital treating Grenfell Tower fire victims has said that patients caught in the disaster could face weeks or even months of recovery.
Fourteen people remain in hospital after the blaze, with eight in critical care, NHS England has said.
Duncan Bew, the clinical director of King's College hospital, told BBC News that doctors had expected hundreds of patients in the aftermath of the fire, but far fewer turned up than expected.
"We were ready to receive many more casualties," Bew said, with staff expecting to treat hundreds of people suffering from injuries ranging from smoke inhalation and burns to "people falling from a height from jumping from windows".
"We knew there were many more people in the building," he said. "As time went on and we realised that we weren't going to receive those casualties, it was very sad."
The vast majority of the patients the hospital received suffered from smoke inhalation rather than burns.
"We had patients who had saved their own families but had also tried to save other families as well," he said. "They had to make a very difficult decision. People went into the stairwells and went into toxic smoke. I think people who escaped felt that they were going to die and that the only way to stay alive was to go through the smoke."
In total, the hospital's major trauma centre received 12 Grenfell Tower patients and are still treating seven, five of whom are in critical care.
A Tory councillor was suspended for this tweet about Grenfell Tower protesters
Labour has demanded an explanation for why ministers apparently ignored fire safety warnings
John Healey, the shadow housing minister, has written to Sajid Javid, the secretary of state for communities and local government, to demand answers as to why four ministers allegedly "ignored specific warnings that fire safety regulations were inadequate for high-rise residential buildings like Grenfell Tower".
The BBC programme Panorama reported on Monday night that in 2014 the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) for fire safety and rescue wrote to Stephen Williams, then communities minister, and Eric Pickles, then secretary of state for communities and local government, to ask them to review safety recommendations.
According to the programme, in a letter sent in the aftermath of the Lakanal House disaster, in which six people were killed in a fire in a Camberwell building, the APPG's secretary Ronnie King wrote:
"As there are estimated to be another 4,000 older tower blocks in the UK, without automatic sprinkler protection, can we really afford to wait for another tragedy to occur before we amend this weakness?"
After further correspondence, Williams eventually replied: "I have neither seen nor heard anything that would suggest that consideration of these specific potential changes is urgent and I am not willing to disrupt the work of this department by asking that these matters are brought forward."
A year later, Panorama reported, the APPG wrote to James Wharton, who was also a minister at the department, to warn about the flammability of cladding, saying: "Today's buildings have a much higher content of readily available combustible material. Examples are timber and polystyrene mixes in structure, cladding and insulation.
"This fire hazard results in many fires because adequate recommendations to developers simply do not exist. There is little or no requirement to mitigate external fire spread."
In 2016, according to Panorama, the APPG wrote to yet another minister, Gavin Barwell. He replied first that he would make a statement "in due course" about his department's analysis of the regulation, then earlier this year replied again to "acknowledge that producing a statement on building regulations has taken longer than I had envisaged".
In his letter to the secretary of state, which was sent on Tuesday, John Healey asked:
- Will you release in full the correspondence between your department and the All-Party Group?
- Will you set out the reasons for not acting upon their concerns?
- For each recommendation made in the rule 43 reports on the Shirley Towers and Lakanal House fires, will you set out your department's progress in implementing the recommendations?
- Will you place in the Library of the House a copy of the research your department said has been undertaken on fire regulation and safety in a response to the BBC on these allegations?
Healey told BuzzFeed News: "There are serious questions for current and former Ministers to answer in light of the Grenfell Tower fire.
"I have written to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, today to get the answers on why important warnings and recommendations over the last four years were not acted upon, so that we can ensure a tragedy like this never happens again."
–Marie Le Conte
The moment firefighters first saw the Grenfell Tower blaze
This is dramatic moment the first firefighters called to the scene of the Grenfell Tower fire were confronted with the scale of the disaster.
Footage broadcast by BBC Panorama on Monday captured the shock and disbelief of the crew as they started to realise they were about to deal with an unprecedented tower block fire.
Firefighters can be heard to say "That's a whole block" and "How is that possible?".
Tower blocks are designed to withstand fires be containing them in the single flat where they first occur – but this didn't happen at Grenfell, as the blaze ripped up the side of the building.
Fire safety experts have suggested that the type of cladding used on the outside of the building, a comparatively cheap variety that had a polyethylene core, could be responsible. This is set to be one of the key questions that a forthcoming public inquiry will investigate. At least 79 people died or remain missing.
London mayor calls for residents to be involved in public inquiry
London mayor Sadiq Khan has called for locals and residents of Grenfell Tower to be involved in the public inquiry examining the case of the residential block fire that has so far claimed at least 79 lives.
Khan, writing in a letter to prime minister Theresa May, said it was imperative that people from the area were involved in the public inquiry announced by the PM last week.
"Relations with the local community can be further strengthened by ensuring families, survivors and civil society groups have a role in drawing up the terms of reference for the public inquiry and are consulted on where inquiry hearings are held," he wrote, the Evening Standard reported.
"Any attempt to exclude them from the process risks further fuelling mistrust. It is crucial that families, survivors and local civil society groups are designated as core participants so that they can play a full and active role in the process."
It comes after many locals said their warnings over the building's fire safety were ignored by the local authority. In the fallout of the fire, which has displaced scores of families, the response by the Royal Borough of Chelsea and Kensington has been criticised.
Over the weekend it emerged that other London councils would take over the relief effort after a catalogue of errors. The councils, working with the British Red Cross and other emergency relief agencies, said the council's response was "simply not good enough on the ground".
–Rose Troup Buchanan
Eight remain in critical care following Grenfell Tower block fire
Eight people remain in critical care in hospital after the Grenfell Tower blaze last week. Seventy-nine people remain missing or dead after the huge fire, which devastated a tower block in west London.
Fourteen people remain in hospital in total, NHS England said in a statement. Twenty people had been in critical care, and 64 people were initially admitted to hospital.
King's College hospital is treating seven people, five of who are in critical care. Chelsea West is treating three people, one of who is in critical care. The Royal has only one patient – who is presently in critical care. St Mary's has three patients, and staff are caring for one in critical care.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
Adele visits firefighters after the blaze
The singer Adele has visited firefighters in Chelsea fire station after the horrific Grenfell Tower blaze that has claimed 79 lives so far.
Adele, who had also visited the site of the fire and spoken to relatives last week, apparently dropped into the station yesterday.
Rob Petty, a firefighter with London Fire Brigade, put pictures of himself and his fellow officers with Adele on Facebook. "Not everyday the wonderfully grounded and caring Adele pops into Chelsea Firestation for a cup of tea and a cuddle," he wrote.
At the height of the blaze more than 200 firefighters worked through the night to fight the fire. LFB Commissioner Dany Cotton said many of those who worked would need psychological support after the fire.
"I spoke to some people who were truly distressed," she said last week, describing how many of her crews had witnessed things they had never anticipated. "They are heroes but they have feelings," she said, talking about an experienced officer who was reduced to tears after witnessing a tower block resident leaping form the building yesterday.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
First payments made to families affected by fire
The first payments are being made to families affected by the fire, officials said on Monday, and work continues on other relief efforts.
Prime Minister Theresa May chaired a meeting of the Grenfell Tower Recovery Task Force, which focused on the needs of people who lost their homes.
"While it was clear some progress is being made, the Prime Minister will continue to receive daily updates to ensure that the steps taken are being carried forward at sufficient scale and speed that help is getting to people who need it," Downing Street saidin a statement.
Eligible households have started receiving payments, and May said a commitment remains to find new homes for displaced residents within three weeks — in their same neighborhood.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who also attended the meeting, said he has offered volunteers to help Grenfell residents navigate the system of support available to them.
He added that he is pushing for a speedier timeline to check other tower blocks for fire risks.
Hundreds march in silence to demand justice for those affected by the fire
Around 200 people took to the streets demanding justice after at least 79 people died, or are presumed dead, in a fire that tore through Grenfell Tower in west London.
It also marked the launch of the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign – a coalition of organisations working together to demand answers from the government, such as why the relief operation was so chaotic.
"People need to see the deeper meaning of the silence," one resident said. "That silence doesn't only represent the grieving of this community, it also represents the state that the operations of the most senior authorities have left us in."
Read more here.
Local people launch the Justice 4 Grenfell Campaign
Families, friends, and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire are leading a march from Ladbroke Grove Library to Bramley Road, west London, as they formally launch the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign for those who died in the blaze last week.
As well as those personally affected, community leaders are expected to join the march, including Labour's Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad and barrister Michael Mansfield QC – who represented the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence and will be advising the group.
The campaign will outline its objectives and what they expect from the government in order for them to "move on as a community and begin the healing process", a statement released on Facebook said.
In a statement, Ishmahil Blagrove, one of the campaign coordinators, said: "It is time for all marginalised communities across Britain regardless of class, faith or ethnicity to come together and challenge the disparities in wealth and inequalities that have plagued our society."
In a statement, the organisers said it was crucial that the authorities "commit to rehousing all residents to ensure their future safety and security".
"The council has a responsibility to all these people," the most recent statement says. "No-one should be left in a worse situation by this tragedy, and the Grenfell community must be allowed to heal together in the local area if they wish to."
The Met police today confirmed that as many as 79 people were believed to have died, with more missing. Stuart Cundy, Met commander, warned it was likely the number would change.
–Rose Troup Buchanan and Elizabeth Pears
More victims formally identified by Met
The Metropolitan police have formally identified more victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.
Abufars Ibrahim, 39, Anthony Disson, 65, and a a 52-year-old woman were formally identified as victims of the fire. The woman's family told the Met they did not wish to release her name publicly yet.
In a statement given to the Met, the family of Disson said they were "devastated" by the news.
"Tony leaves behind a large family, his wife, sons and grandchildren, including one grandchild he will never get to meet," they said, and asked for privacy during this difficult period.
"We miss him terribly, and are pulling together as a family and trying to stay strong under these tragic circumstances."
The Met's statement confirms that all of those named were residents of Grenfell Tower. Postmortem examinations are being conducted at Westminster Mortuary.
"The families of all four victims have been informed, and are being supported by specially trained family liaison officers," it adds.
On Sunday, the Met formally identified 23-year-old Mohammad Alhajali as one of the victims. Local 24-year-old artist Khadija Saye was also previously confirmed as among the dead.
Earlier today, Met Commander Stuart Cundy confirmed that 79 people were believed dead or missing.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
Britain holds minute's silence in memory of the Grenfell victims
People across the country fell silent at 11 am local time to remember those killed in last week's blaze in west London.
Members of the London Fire Brigade and other emergency services joined residents for the silence at the site of the disaster.
Five people who were reported as missing have been identified and are alive and well, police confirm
As Met Commander Stuart Cundy announced the latest death toll figure on Monday morning, he also revealed that five people who were reported as missing have been identified and are alive and well.
"Thankfully over the last few days, we have identified five people who people believed were missing and I am so grateful that they are alive, safe, and well," he said.
Missing and dead from fire rises to 79, Met confirms
Those dead or missing, presumed dead, from the Grenfell tower fire has risen to 79 people, the Metropolitan police have confirmed.
"I know that there are 79 people who are missing, or presumed dead," Commander Stuart Cundy confirmed, and said it was hard to convey the devastation within the flats.
Cundy also said the process of identifying victims was likely to take weeks due to the "indescribable" conditions inside the tower. "Due to the intensity of the fire we may not be able to identify everyone who has died," he said.
"With the agreement of the families and the coroner, once we have confirmed the identities of those who have died, we will be releasing their names," he said.
Just five people have been identified so far. Seventeen patients are receiving care across four hospitals in England, nine of whom are in a critical condition, according to figures released by NHS England.
However, Cundy said that the number of people presumed to be dead, or missing, may change as there may be people in the tower who people have not yet realised are missing.
"I must consider the fact that there may be others in the building who, for whatever reason have not been reported to us," he said. "There is also a real possibility that there may be people in the building that no one knows are missing."
— Rose Troup Buchanan and Fiona Rutherford
The UK will observe a minute’s silence at 11am on Monday 19 June
Police release photos and video from inside Grenfell Tower
Video taken by a specialist police recovery team.
Grenfell Tower families to receive a minimum of £5,500
Every family that lost their home as a result of the Grenfell Tower fire will receive a guaranteed payment of at least £5,500, the government has announced, hours after it was claimed survivors had been given just £10 by the local council.
A Downing Street statement said the payment would be made up of £500 in cash, paid immediately, and £5,000 paid into bank accounts starting from tomorrow.
The money is being paid from a £5 million fund announced by prime minister Theresa May on Friday.
In a statement, May said: "As we continue to respond to the needs of the community, our focus is on ensuring that all of those affected by this unimaginable tragedy get the right support as quickly as possible.
"My government will continue to do absolutely everything possible to help all of those affected through the difficult days, weeks, months and years ahead."
Sadiq Khan: Grenfell Tower disaster a "preventable accident"
The mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said the Grenfell Tower fire was the result of years of neglect by local and central government.
"There's a feeling that the council and successive governments don't understand their concerns and, frankly, don't care," he said after attending a church service close to the tower, where at least 58 people are thought to have lost their lives.
Khan described the fire as a "preventable accident that didn't need to happen," adding that the "tragedy we're seeing is a consequence of the mistakes and neglect from politicians from the council and from the government."
He added: "One of the things that we must do is support those families who've lost their homes, what we must do is make sure we help those who're grieving, we must make sure we learn the lessons, we must make sure it's not so hard for people who need help, to find help."
Read more here.
Kensington and Chelsea council leader denies chaotic scenes
The leader of Kensington and Chelsea council says he rejects the impression that local authorities lost control of the situation following the Grenfell Tower fire.
Following reports of chaotic and confusing scenes at rest centres, Nick Paget-Brown told BBC News it was "inaccurate" to say the council was not present and trying to help survivors and other affected residents.
"Right at the beginning we were quite aware that this was a huge enormity," he said, adding that no single local authority in London would have been able to deal with the aftermath of the fire alone.
"Kensington and Chelsea officials have been working around the clock since Wednesday, and I've come on air to support the work that they have been doing," he said. "I'm sure there are challenges, we will look at all of that, but to say that the local authority is not present and we're not working together with other councils is inaccurate."
Paget-Brown, leader of the Tory-run council, said he understood the "enormous concerns and anger" of people about the events leading up to the fire, which is understood to have claimed the lives of 58 people.
"I share that anger, the council is wanting to know why that fire started, why it spread so quickly," he said. "My immediate concern this weekend is to ensure that the right support services for some very vulnerable people are on the ground. I've been out this morning to check that they are, I've satisfied myself that they are, but this is a long term requirement."
Paget-Brown said concerns over the way the tenant management organisation handled the recent refurbishment of Grenfell Tower were "proper questions", but "not questions for this afternoon, those are questions for the inquiry" being set up by prime minister Theresa May.
Asked about MP David Lammy expressing concerns of documents that could prove useful to the criminal investigation into the fire being destroyed or going missing before police could get their hands on them, Paget-Brown said he "hadn't given any thought to it".
"My immediate concern and my immediate preoccupation since Wednesday has been to ensure that we are able to support and provide support to some very distressed, vulnerable people: children who will perhaps to go school tomorrow and find that classmates are no longer there; elderly people whose first language isn't English finding that they've lost the person who was giving them support," he said when asked if he had thought about resigning over the fire.
"I'm trying to make sure we get through that, that the council has the right support systems in place, with the help of other authorities and the mayor of London and gold command, and everybody else. But that's my immediate focus. I too want to know what went wrong with this refurbishment, and I will be asking those questions."
Volunteer claims Grenfell Tower fire survivors are being given £10 at hotels
Nisha Parti, a film producer and west Londoner, has been volunteering to help survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire. She told ITV's Peston on Sunday programme that Kensington and Chelsea council has been giving residents £10 when they are placed in hotels. She added that no one was telling volunteers or victims where the money being raised for them was going.
"There is money pouring in from all these amazing volunteers and we can't get access to the money to get it to the families," Parti said.
"Victims were going to hotels, arriving at hotels with no one from the council to greet them, to check them, to look after them, to give them clothes and food. Volunteers are now going to hotels with food packages with cash."
BuzzFeed News has contacted Kensington and Chelsea council for comment.
Appearing on the same programme, David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, who lost a friend in the fire, asked: "Why are we behaving like this is Victorian England?"
He said the response to the fire was "an outrage, it's a scandal, it's appalling".
Cabinet minister says she feels "shame" over Grenfell Tower
Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the Commons and a former Tory leadership contender, has admitted she feels a sense of "shame" over the Grenfell Tower fire.
"Totally, yes of course of course," she said in an appearance on BBC One's Sunday Politics show. "We all think, What should we have done or could we have? It's just unbearable. This cannot happen in the 21st century and yet it has."
MP who lost friend to fire says suspicion of cover-up is growing
David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, has called on prime minister Theresa May and the Metropolitan police to seize all relevant documents to the Grenfell Tower fire investigation to remove the risk they will be destroyed.
Lammy, whose friend Khadija Saye died in the fire, said that within the community, suspicion was growing of a cover-up into what led to the deaths of at least 58 people.
"The prime minister needs to act immediately to ensure that all evidence is protected so that everyone culpable for what happened at Grenfell Tower is held to account and feels the full force of the law," he said.
"We need urgent action now to make sure that all records and documents relating to the refurbishment and management of Grenfell Tower are protected."
Asked by a Sky News presenter whether his intervention could only intensify anger, Lammy replied: "Why is it making things worse? You will be aware that as a journalist there are other major police investigations. Let's say the investigations around terrorism, you get a rolling commentary from the police. We know, minimum, that 50-odd people have lost their lives. Why is it not appropriate given there's a criminal investigation for the people who have lost loved ones not to hear a little bit more about this criminal investigation?
"People are suspicious that when it involves the state, when it involves a local authority, when it involves a failed [tenant management organisation], when it involves contractors suddenly we all go quiet and we talk about it being a tragedy. They want more than that actually, they want to know what is really going on, and they expect to hear that from the prime minister and others. That is not me stirring the pot, that is me speaking for the most vulnerable people in our society." –Matthew Champion
Tube stations closed after fire due to reopen today
Sections of two London Underground lines were closed yesterday due to "the recent building fire near Latimer Road," Transport for London (TfL) said.
TfL said the London Fire Brigade had requested they close stations close to Grenfell Tower due to a short-term risk of debris falling on to the track.
The lines could reopen by Sunday afternoon.
Chancellor: Grenfell cladding was illegal in this country too
Chancellor Philip Hammond has said the cladding used in a recent refurbishment of the Grenfell Tower may have been illegal to use in the UK.
People who witnessed the fire in the early hours of Wednesday morning said flames spread very quickly up the side of the building, and that the cladding had contributed to its spread.
The particular cladding used is banned in certain buildings in the US, and banned outright in Germany, but Hammond told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show it was his understanding it was also illegal to use in the UK.
"There are two separate questions, one is 'are our regulations correct, do they permit the right kind of materials and ban the wrong kind of materials?'. Second question is 'were they correctly complied with?'," he said.
Hammond said these questions would both be examined by the public inquiry ordered by the prime minister, and the separate criminal inquiry launched by the Metropolitan police.
You can read more about unanswered questions about the fire here.
Labour-controlled London council stepping in to deal with crisis
The Labour-run Ealing council says it is stepping in to help deal with the aftermath of the tower fire.
Rupinder Hardy, a manager at Ealing council, held meetings with volunteers last night and this morning, and told BuzzFeed News: "Now we've got a lot of Ealing people coming, and we've got representatives from government offices.
"I've suggested yesterday what I'd like to see, and I'd like to get this to feel like a rest centre, to feel welcoming, to feel inclusive, to give the opportunity to the community to be somewhere where they can talk to community groups and to be heard, and to have their outcomes met."
The news comes after prime minister Theresa May admitted the response to the fire had not been good enough.
Speaking to ITV's Peston on Sunday programme, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "You have a very large number of people looking for somewhere to live now because the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea doesn't have the capacity to deal with the crisis."
Read more here.
May: Grenfell Tower fire response "not good enough"
Theresa May has admitted the support on the ground for survivors of the Grenfell Fire disaster "was not good enough".
Following criticism of the authorities' response to the fire, which culminated in a series of protests last night, the prime minister said she was ordering "immediate action" to help victims' relatives and survivors.
May met with residents, volunteers and community leaders at Downing Street today, to, she said, "listen to their concerns and reassure them personally that government is there for them – and that everything possible will be done to help them through the hugely difficult days, weeks, months and years to come."
"The response of the emergency services, NHS and the community has been heroic," she said in a written statement issued after the meeting.
"But, frankly, the support on the ground for families who needed help or basic information in the initial hours after this appalling disaster was not good enough."
As well as the official response to the disaster being criticised, May has come under pressure personally for failing to meet residents in person at the scene.
She met emergency personnel at the base of the tower on Thursday, spoke with victims in hospital on Friday, and later that day spoke with residents and volunteers in the nearby St Clement's Church in a third private visit. The latter visit coincided with angry protests outside the church, which May left to chants of "coward".
"I have heard the concerns and I have ordered immediate action across the board to help victims' relatives and the survivors," today's statement said.
"People lost everything in the fire and were left in only the clothes they were wearing.
"I can confirm that a £5 million emergency fund that I announced yesterday is now being distributed on the ground so people can buy clothes, food and other essentials. If more funding is required, it will be provided."
The prime minister said all residents left homeless would be found a home nearby in three weeks, and that she had requested daily progress reports on the issue.
"There have been huge frustrations that people do not know who to talk to, that they can't get through on the council hotlines," her statement continued.
"I have ordered that more staff be deployed across the area, wearing high visibility clothing, so they can easily be found, dispense advice and ensure the right support is provided. Phone lines will have more staff."
May said the public inquiry she has ordered will be open and transparent, and that ministers will cooperate fully. The judge in charge of the inquiry will be announced in the coming days, she said.
"Victims have concerns their voice will not be heard, that their many questions about this tragedy will not be answered," May said.
"It has been decided today that the public inquiry will report back to me personally. As prime minister, I will be responsible for implementing its findings."
The prime minister said all councils had been ordered to conduct urgent safety checks on all high rise blocks similar to Grenfell Tower, to reassure residents.
"The fire at Grenfell Tower was an unimaginable tragedy for the community, and for our country," the statement concluded. "My government will do whatever it takes to help those affected, get justice and keep our people safe."
Family pay tribute to first victim to be officially identified
The family of the first victim of the Grenfell Tower fire to be officially identified have paid tribute to him.
Mohammad Alhajali was a Syrian refugee who arrived in the UK in 2014. He had been studying civil engineering in London and had dreamed of returning home to rebuild his country. His brother Omar survived the fire.
Mohammad's family said in a statement: "Mohammad was a very amazing and kind person. He gave love to everyone. He came to the UK because he had ambitions and aims for his life and for his family. Our whole family will miss Mohammad dearly and he will never be forgotten. To God we belong and to him we return."
58 people now presumed dead, police announce
Metropolitan police commander Stuart Cundy has announced that 58 people are presumed dead after the Grenfell Tower fire. This figure includes the deaths of 30 people already announced, and the 16 people whose bodies have been recovered to the mortuary.
Twenty-eight people are missing, presumed dead, a Metropolitan police spokesperson later clarified.
Fifty-two families are being supported by family liaison officers, Cundy said, adding that 19 people remain in hospital, 10 of which are receiving critical care.
He told journalists in the shadow of Grenfell that the death-toll could increase further still if people were in the tower that night of the fire that police are not aware of.
Cundy asked for anyone who escaped the tower but hadn't made it known to contact police: "I don't care the reason you haven't told us so far. I want to know and we all want to know you are safe and well."
He added: "Whilst I sincerely hope that our work over the coming days means that we able to say that less people are confirmed as having died, I also have to consider the sad reality that this may rise."
He confirmed that the first victim of the fire to be named, 23-year-old Syrian refugee Mohammad Alhajali, had been officially identified.
Cundy added that police would release images from inside the tower tomorrow, once they had informed families that they were planning on doing so.
PM holds private meeting with Grenfell victims at Downing Street
The prime minister is holding a private meeting with victims, volunteers and community leaders from the Grenfell Tower disaster at Number 10 Downing Street.
Theresa May has been criticised for not meeting with survivors, but this is her fourth private visit with those affected by the disaster.
Speaking outside Number 10 after the meeting, a representative of the group said: "I will make this very brief. We will not be making a full statement, we will be making this in the community with the community. We had two and half hours with the prime minister. I spoke about our demands and what we expect. You will hear from us in due course."
Pressure on May over Grenfell Fire response
Pressure is mounting on Theresa May over her response to the Grenfell Fire disaster, with some of her closest allies forced to defend her.
First secretary of state Damian Green said the prime minister was "distraught" over the fire after she was criticised for not visiting residents sooner.
Writing in The Times, former Tory MP Matthew Parris said May was "not viable", while many people online shared a cartoon from the same newspaper encapsulating the criticism of May's response.
Read more, including details on May's awkward interview with Newsnight, here.
Corbyn writes to May over public inquiry
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has written to prime minister Theresa May over her promise to hold a public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire.
In his letter, he expresses concerns that the inquiry could delay any parallel legal actions by families affected by the disaster, and says legal aid must be made available for them to do so.
Corbyn also backs mayor of London Sadiq Khan's call for an interim report to be produced this summer.
7 unanswered questions over the Grenfell Tower fire
Pressure is growing on the authorities over the circumstances that led to and the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire.
Here are seven questions that the public inquiry ordered by prime minister Theresa May must answer:
What role did the cladding play in the rapid spread of the fire?
Where did the materials used in the refurbishment come from and who ordered them?
Why did the type of cladding change to a more flammable type of material during the planning process?
Were previous warnings ignored? And if so, by whom?
Were residents' concerns about fire safety ignored?
Isn't an inquest better than a public inquiry anyway?
Who is liable for all this?
Read more here.
Man jailed for posting victim's photos on Facebook
A man has been jailed for three months for taking photos of the body of a man who died in the Grenfell Tower fire, and posting them on Facebook.
Omega Mwaikambo, 43, was arrested on Wednesday, the day the fire tore through the west London tower block.
He pleaded guilty to two offences under the Communications Act and was jailed for 12 weeks at Westminster magistrates' court on Friday.
Read more here.
The Queen has reflected on the sombre national mood in her official birthday message
In her official birthday message, the Queen has reflected on the "very sombre national mood", a day after visiting Grenfell Tower fire survivors, residents and volunteers.
"Today is traditionally a day of celebration. This year, however, it is difficult to escape a very sombre national mood. In recent months, the country has witnessed a succession of terrible tragedies," the message says, referring to the Manchester Arena bomb and the London Bridge attack, as well as Grenfell.
"As a nation, we continue to reflect and pray for all those who have been directly affected by these events. During recent visits in Manchester and London, I have been profoundly struck by the immediate inclination of people throughout the country to offer comfort and support to those in desperate need.
"Put to the test, the United Kingdom has been resolute in the face of adversity. United in our sadness, we are equally determined, without fear or favour, to support all those rebuilding lives so horribly affected by injury and loss."
People Took To The Streets Of West London To Protest The Grenfell Tower Tragedy
Crowds of people gathered outside Kensington Town Hall and marched down to Latimer Road demanding justice for the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, which left at least 30 people dead.
Local resident Hannah Wiggins, 20, was, along with her partner and friends, encouraging people in the community to write messages of love and support on t-shirts and a large piece of cloth.
Another protester, Bahar Karimi, told BuzzFeed News that she was disappointed at the lack of support from the government, but proud of the community for coming together. "All the people donating, and giving to the community, are actually people that need help themselves – so their generosity is so amazing," she said.
Read more about the protests on the streets of west London here. – Fiona Rutherford and Ryan Broderick
Hundreds of protesters reach Downing Street
A resident who lives near the tower, Chris Imafidon, held a poster of a missing child and a burned piece of cladding as he addressed the crowd.
He said: "I'm not here because I support the Tories, Labour or Liberals. I'm here because this child... went to bed and now nobody knows where this child is.
Holding the cladding up, he said: "I was in front of the block of flats that went up in flames and here is the evidence."
A sit-in was also held at Oxford Circus.
– Alan White
These People Are Still Missing After The Grenfell Tower Blaze
Families are desperately searching for missing relatives who have been unaccounted for since an "unprecedented" fire ripped through Grenfell Tower in west London, killing at least 30 people.
Although several victims have been confirmed as dead by relatives, none have been officially named.
—Sara Spary, Louise Ridley, Victoria Sanusi, and Fiona Rutherford
A crowd of protesters have gathered outside Kensington town hall
A large group of protesters are outside Kensington town hall, in west London, where they handed a list of five demands to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council.
Mustafa Mansour, who appeared to be one of the organisers, said they want the local authority to do more to help those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, to match the spirit of kindness from ordinary people.
He told BuzzFeed News people were angry because nobody from the council came outside to speak to the crowd and instead sent out a written statement that did not fully addresses their concerns.
Among the list of the demands was a call for those who have been displaced to be rehoused locally. The group said they urgently wanted to know the number of people who perished in the fire, as well as the number of people who were in the building.
Earlier today, speculation grew that the authorities were withholding the number of fatalities. Thirty people so far have been confirmed dead, but Met commander Stuart Cundy has said on several occasions that they expect the number to rise.
An extensive recovery operation is underway at the building to find and identify those who died.
– Fiona Rutherford
May announces £5 million fund for Grenfell victims
Prime minister Theresa May has announced a £5 million fund to pay for emergency supplies, food, clothes, and other costs for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.
According to Downing Street, the fund includes:
- A commitment that victims who lost their homes in the disaster must be rehoused at the earliest possible opportunity and we should aim to do this within 3 weeks at the latest.
- A guarantee to rehouse people as close as practically possible to where they previously lived – meaning they can continue to access the same public services such as their local school or local GP. This rehousing would be in the same borough and, if not, a neighbouring borough.
- Until people are rehoused, the cost of temporary accommodation will be met on their behalf.
- The government will also provide any necessary financial assistance to families who have been rehoused so children and their parents do not incur any extra costs in travelling to their local school.
- The new £5 million Grenfell Tower Residents' Discretionary Fund, made immediately available and given to the local authority to distribute. This could be used to cover loss of possessions, funerals and emergency supplies.
- Confirmation the Treasury will work with banks to ensure that those affected by the disaster who lost possessions like bank cards still have access to their accounts.
- The Department for Work & Pensions are working with local job centres to ensure that those affected have access to the benefits and pensions they would normally receive.
May said in a statement: "The individual stories I heard this morning at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital were horrific. I spoke with people who ran from the fire in only the clothes they were wearing.
"They have been left with nothing – no bank cards, no money, no means of caring for their children or relatives. One woman told me she had escaped in only her top and underwear.
"The package of support I'm announcing today is to give the victims the immediate support they need to care for themselves and for loved ones. We will continue to look at what more needs to be done.
"Everyone affected by this tragedy needs reassurance that the government is there for them at this terrible time – and that is what I am determined to provide."
Protesters surround church during PM's visit
After being criticised for not speaking to residents affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, Theresa May made a visit to St Clement's Church, near the tower block, on Friday afternoon. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited the same church yesterday.
But the prime minister's visit to the refuge site was greeted by protesters demanding answers over the circumstances and aftermath of the fire and criticising a perceived lack of action since the disaster.
"I want her to come out here and face us," Alison Moses told BuzzFeed News. "What are you doing here on Friday? I lost my home on Tuesday, people lost their lives on Tuesday."
As May spoke to people inside the church, people outside chanted "get her out". Amid an increased police presence, May exited by a side door, to chants of "coward".
The Sun has denied one of its reporters impersonated a Grenfell relative to visit a victim in hospital
The Sun newspaper has denied that one of its reporters impersonated a relative of Grenfell Tower fire victim in order to enter a London hospital where survivors are being treated.
In a statement the newspaper said the claims were "untrue and malicious accusations".
According to The Guardian, sources said a Sun journalist attempted to impersonate a relative of Grenfell resident Marcio Gomes in order to interview him.
King's College Hospital told BuzzFeed News it would be informing the media regulator about an unspecified incident.
It said: "Following an incident at King's College Hospital, we have formally written to The Sun and will be informing the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). We are unable to comment on the specifics until our complaint has been investigated."
At time of publication, IPSO said it had not received any complaints.
There isn't a "D-notice" banning the media from reporting details of the Grenfell fire
Twitter users, fueled by the left-wing Skwawkbox blog and elsewhere, have been posting theories that the government has issued a "D-Notice" censoring the media from reporting casualty numbers from the fire at Grenfell Tower in Kensington.
The rumours have grown out of the slow rise in official casualty numbers from the fire. Officials have confirmed that at least 30 residents of the tower block have died and emphasised that the total is expected to rise.
In one post titled "GOVT "PUTS 'D-NOTICE' GAG" ON REAL #GRENFELL DEATH TOLL #NATIONALSECURITY", Skwawkbox claimed "multiple sources told the SKWAWKBOX that the government has placed a 'D-notice' (sometimes called a 'DA Notice') on the real number of deaths in the blaze".
"D-Notices" (Defence and Security Media Advisory, or DSMA, notices) are part of a voluntary system between government and media outlets to advise when the government doesn't wish the media to publish sensitive details of stories which could endanger intelligence, security or police operations. They are rare: The last one was issued after the Manchester terror attack.
BuzzFeed News has confirmed with the DSMA secretariat that there are no advisories issued about the fire at Grenfell Tower, that notices would not be sent in relation to civilian disasters such as this one, and that so far as the DSMA secretariat is aware there is no national security element whatsoever to the tragedy.
The Grenfell Tower disaster survivors might not be rehoused in the same part of London
Survivors of the Grenfell Fire disaster, in which at least 30 people died, might not be rehoused in the same borough or even in the same part of London, according to the local authority.
Kensington and Chelsea council said in a statement on Friday afternoon: "While we will try do our upmost to ensure those affected remain in or near the borough, given the number of households involved, it is possible the council will have to explore housing options that may become available in other parts of the capital."
The council said all former residents who had approached them for help had been placed in hotels. On Thursday, several residents expressed concern that they will be permanently resettled in a different borough of London.
The council's admission appears to contradict a government pledge made on Thursday, when housing minister Alok Sharma told a briefing of MPs at Westminster on Thursday that "the government will guarantee that every single family will be rehomed in the local area".
Boris Johnson attacks "political game playing" over Grenfell Tower fire
The former London mayor has issued a statement criticising the "political game playing" he says is taking place in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.
Boris Johnson, now foreign secretary, said in a statement that he found it "unbelievable that Labour are suggesting that this tragedy was somehow caused by fire service cuts".
Two days ago, a spokesperson for Johnson told BuzzFeed News: "The current Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan had the opportunity when he arrived as Mayor to review and make any changes to the LFB. We should praise their incredible work to combat this awful fire."
–Rose Troup Buchanan
Over £1 million has been raised for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire by a single JustGiving page
In less than 48 hours a single crowdfunding page has raised more than £1 million to help the victims of Wednesday morning's fire at Grenfell Tower in west London, which left at least 30 people dead.
The JustGiving page was created by Haley Yearwood, a teacher and director of learning for students in year 8 at Kensington Aldridge Academy.
"As I watched the news at 5 o'clock in the morning, I just wanted to make sure residents affected were well cared for after the tragedy," Yearwood said in a statement.
Actor Tom Hardy has set up a crowdfunding page for victims of the Grenfell Tower fire
Ever since the horrific news broke about the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed at least 30 and injured many more, celebrities have been flocking to social media and even to the scene to help survivors as best they can.
Tom Hardy has set up an emergency fundraising JustGiving page to help those affected.
Hardy wrote a long message to fans explaining his reasons for doing so, and admitted how the "harrowing" tragedy had affected him.
Theresa May pictured leaving Chelsea and Westminster hospital
Theresa May has been photographed leaving Chelsea and Westminster hospital after she visited victims of the Grenfell Tower fire today.
The PM had come under criticism for not meeting residents of the local area earlier.
Chelsea and Westminster has the city's specialist burns unit, and took 25 of those wounded in the blaze in the hours after the fire broke out. Only eight patients remain in the hospital, three in critical care.
London mayor writes to PM urging changes
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has written to Theresa May outlining four main areas of concern that the government needs to tackle on behalf of those caught up in the Grenfell Tower fire.
After spending "several hours" with residents yesterday, Khan said they "feel the government and local council haven't done enough to help them in the aftermath of this horrific incident, or to provide answers to their increasingly urgent questions". He said he promised the community he would "fight for them" and laid out the following four steps.
Victim support and information
Khan said victims need more information, urgently. They "cannot comprehend" why they are not being given more information. He said while the systems in place work for a terror attack, they should be rethought in the light of this disaster.
The mayor noted that local organisational structures have been overwhelmed by the scale of the tragedy, and the response. "I would urge the Government to provide all necessary assistance and satisfy itself that the operation is functioning to the standard local residents have the right to expect," he wrote.
Tower block safety
Many people are "terrified" that a similar fire could take place in their block, Khan said, and the government needs to provide a list of those tower blocks already checked "by the end of today", as well as a timeline for the remaining buildings.
Khan said the public, but especially the local community, could not afford to wait "years" for the public inquiry. He urged the government to publish an interim report this summer.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
Here's why the official death toll from the Grenfell Tower fire is currently still so low
In a Channel 4 News interview with Jon Snow on Thursday, singer Lily Allen, who lives in the area, accused the media and the government of downplaying the death toll, which was at 17 at the time.
She said the government was trying to "micromanage" people's grief, and said the media were downplaying the death count.
The Met's Commander Stuart Cundy said on Thursday that identifying those who tragically died in the Grenfell Tower fire "is our top priority".
At a subsequent press conference on Friday, where it was confirmed that at least 30 people have died, BuzzFeed News asked Cundy why the process of confirming the numbers of those who have died was taking so long.
"What is important for me, on behalf of the police, is that I will only say something that I know to be true. So at this point in time, I know at least 30 people have died in this fire. The very nature of this intense fire that has occurred within Grenfell Tower – and I do believe that the number will increase," he said, as angry residents called for the process to be sped up.
"The building itself in a hazardous state. It is going to take a period of time for our specialists, both within the police and the London Fire Brigade, to fully search that building to make sure we locate and recover everybody who has sadly perished in that fire. We will be doing that as swiftly as we can, absolutely."
–Victoria Sanusi and Hannah Al-Othman
30 people confirmed dead as recovery operation continues, despite "particularly hazardous" conditions, Met police say
At least 30 people have now died in the fire, Metropolitan police commander Stuart Cundy has confirmed.
In a statement to the press at the site of Grenfell Tower, he said that the fires within the building were now out, and that the evidence they and the London Fire Brigade had seen so far indicated that the blaze was not started deliberately.
"At this point in time we know that at least 30 people have died as a result of this fire. Sadly and tragically that includes one person who was taken to hospital and despite the very best medical care from the NHS has now sadly died," Cundy said during a press briefing on Friday afternoon. 12 people have been taken to the mortuary, although he said "a number" of bodies remained at the Grenfell Tower site.
Cundy said that 29 police liaison officers were supporting 36 families, and all of those in hospitals had now been accounted for. "Sadly, we do not expect there to be any survivors," he said.
Responding to a question from BuzzFeed News about the length of time it was taking to identify the bodies and release information, Cundy said: "I will only say something that I know to be true. I know at this point in time that there are at least 30 people that have died in this fire."
The Met officer was heckled by residents as he spoke, breaking off to say: "I do believe that the number will increase, sadly."
He went on to explain that the recovery operation would take a significant length of time because "the building itself is in a very hazardous state".
"I completely understand the need for those who have lost loved ones so that as quick as we can we are able to confirm that," he said. "As quick as can we will be recovering people and ensuring that we have a full search of Grenfell Tower. Sadly, I do believe that the number of those that have died will increase, and as soon as we can we will share that with the families and then the wider community."
Earlier in the press conference, Cundy said the situation inside the tower remained "particularly hazardous".
He continued: "It is going to take us a considerable amount of time to fully work through Grenfell Tower over the coming weeks to ensure that we complete our investigation here within the building itself. It is an absolutely priority and what we are all doing is as quickly and with as much dignity as we can recovering those that are still inside."
Richard Mills, of the London Fire Brigade, also tackled questions about the length of the operation. He said they had a number of urban search and rescue crews working to help "support the police in the extraction of the victims and the stabilisation of the building".
"We anticipate that this is going to be a considerably protracted incident, and we will remain on scene for as long as is necessary to ensure that we give as much support as is possible to our other colleagues and we reunite the victims as best we can with their relatives."
–Rose Troup Buchanan
Councils across the UK are ordering urgent tower block safety reviews after the Grenfell disaster
Local authorities across the UK have ordered urgent safety reviews into their high-rise residential buildings in the wake of the Grenfell disaster, as anxious residents ask whether their homes are safe.
Councils have sought to reassure residents that their homes have not been fitted with the same aluminium composite material (ACM) as the London tower block. Here's what the authorities are doing:
A council flat tenant in Bristol has launched a High Court claim against Bristol city council to halt ongoing cladding works on 45 towers in the city.
Kensington and Chelsea council leader Nick Padget-Brown told BBC Newsnight on Thursday that no other towers in the borough have the same kind of cladding.
On Thursday Hounslow council halted renovation work to re-clad six "deteriorating" towers in Brentford.
Westminster council wrote to residents in one block in the Little Venice district saying there was "no reason to believe" the same materials used on Grenfell were used in a recent renovation.
Croydon said it was "making checks on all of our blocks with external cladding and looking at the implications as well as carrying out a full review of fire safety".
Camden, Islington, Wandsworth, and Sutton have all ordered reviews.
Southampton city council wrote to tower block residents to say that cladding has been installed on eight towers, but of a naturally fire-resistant mineral-based variety.
A review is under way of tower blocks in Salford.
Urgent checks are being carried out by the Northern Ireland executive. Glasgow has said it does not use the same cladding as used at Grenfell, as has Edinburgh city council and Aberdeen city council.
PM visits Chelsea and Westminster hospital
Prime minister Theresa May has visited Chelsea and Westminster hospital this morning, following growing call for her to meet victims of the Grenfell fire.
The hospital, which houses the city's specialist burns unit, took 25 patients in the hours after the fire engulfed the 24-storey residential block. Eight patients remain in the hospital, three of who are in critical care, according to a NHS statement this morning.
May had faced criticism after she met with the fire crews and police officer at the scene in Notting Hill yesterday, but did not speak to residents. Queen Elizabeth, Prince William, and Labour leader Jeremy have all met with residents. Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom was forced to defend the Conservative leader to upset locals earlier today, prior to May's visit to the hospital.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
"Beautiful" London artist confirmed as among those killed in fire
An emerging London artist has been confirmed as among the dead following the devastating fire in Grenfell Tower block.
Khadija Saye, 24, had been listed as among those missing. Tottenham MP David Lammy, whose wife had mentored Saye, had been one of many desperately asking for information on the young artist's whereabouts after the fire.
"May you rest in peace Khadija Saye. God bless your beautiful soul. My heart breaks today. I mourn the tragic loss of a wonderful young woman," he tweeted this morning, after her cousin confirmed Saye's death on Facebook last night.
–Sara Spary & Rose Troup Buchanan
PM to chair cross-party Whitehall meeting
Theresa May will chair a cross parliamentary meeting in Whitehall at 1.30pm today to discuss the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire.
At least 17 people have died, 12 remain in critical care, and many more are missing after the blaze ripped through the 24-storey residential block in west London early Wednesday morning.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
Queen and Prince William visit residents of Grenfell Tower
The Queen and her grandson Prince William have arrived in west London and will meet residents and victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.
The pair, whose arrival comes after Theresa May visited the scene to speak to emergency service personnel but not residents, visited the Westway Community centre. It has become a focal point for those affected by the disaster.
Yesterday, the monarch issued a statement praising the bravery of the emergency services and saying that her "thoughts and prayers were with all those who had lost loved ones" in the fire.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
PM to visit victims in hospital, reports say
Prime minister Theresa May will visit victims of the Grenfell Tower block in hospital today, the BBC has reported.
May has come under increasingly heavy criticism after she did not meet with residents yesterday, instead speaking to fire crews and police officers during her brief visit. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been praised for his appearance, after he spoke to faith leaders and met with a number of those affected by the tragedy.
Earlier today, leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom was forced to defend May's absence to angry residents during a TV interview with Sky News. Leadsom said May was "trying to get a grip on this [situation] and provide practical leadership".
–Rose Troup Buchanan
Parliament's flags flown at half mast in recognition of tragedy
As many as 17 people have died in the tower block blaze that broke out shortly before 1am on Wednesday morning. 24 people remain in four hospitals across the capital, with 12 receiving critical care. Scores more are missing, as families desperately search for news.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
Leadsom confronted by residents over PM's absence
Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom was forced to defend prime minister Theresa May as upset residents confronted her during a visit to Grenfell Tower.
"The PM has been incredibly closely following what has been happening," Leadsom said. "The prime minister is doing everything she can. I am sure if it is felt that it is helpful [for her to come down] then I am sure she will. At the same time, there are some very practical needs that need to be met for residents that have been affected and their families."
The leader of the Commons was criticised by local residents as she was interviewed by Sky News for her leader's absence in the area. One man said that private visits, which Leadsom said a number of MPs had made, were not enough.
"As the PM said yesterday, people will want answers," she said. "It is absolutely vital that we get to the bottom of it. We do need to know exactly what happened."
"The prime minister is trying to get a grip on this and provide practical leadership," she said as she left the small scrum of people surrounding her.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
This is the man who criticised the mainstream media
Ishmahil Blagrove, a longstanding Notting Hill writer, filmmaker and resident, has told BuzzFeed News that he felt the needs of people who live in social housing were routinely overlooked, with preference given to wealthy residents who own their homes.
"When the average property price in this area is just £1.2 million – who do you think can buy it?" he said. "The council listens to the man who owns his house as opposed to the man who lives in social housing. That is where the crisis from this country is coming from."
A video of Blagrove criticising the mainstream media over their coverage was shared thousands of times on Thursday.
Blagrove has long campaigned on the issue of gentrification in his area, and has been a prominent advocate for those in social housing over the years. In 2014 he wrote a book on the history of the Notting Hill carnival, and discussed current police relations with the local community.
"The marginalised, the disenfranchised, the voiceless people are not heard, and only people that have a certain income, or have connections to certain people get heard. You have poor working-class people who have to be legitimised by some cut-glass accent before people take them seriously. That's the bullshit and fuckery that is going down."
He said that prime minister Theresa May was not listening to people, and the government had not acted after the Lakanal House fire in 2009. The fire, in a 14-storey tower block in MP Harriet Harman's Camberwell constituency, killed six people.
"You learned fuck all from that, do you understand me?" he said. "So don't tell me about lessons are going to be learned. Do not treat this community as some ignorant low-IQ community … We're not going to be dismissed with hollow platitudes which you use to dismiss and bury those who are responsible."
–Fiona Rutherford and Rose Troup Buchanan
12 remain in critical care, NHS confirms
The number of people in critical care has dropped to 12, in four hospitals across the capital. Only 24 people remain in hospital in total, the NHS also said in a statement.
The hospitals still treating people are King's College, Chelsea and Westminster, the Royal Free, and St Mary's. Both Charing Cross and Guy's and St Thomas' have discharged all their patients.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
Labour MP calls on prime minister to invite Grenfell Tower residents to Downing Street
Harriet Harman, Labour MP for Camberwell and Peckham, has urged prime minister Theresa May to invite Grenfell Tower block residents to Downing Street.
May has come under increasing criticism for not meeting residents of the block yesterday, instead speaking to fire crews and police officers. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spent time on the site and spoke with victims and residents.
Harman said victims and relatives of the Lakanal House fire, which claimed the lives of six people in 2009, were invited to Number 10 in the wake of that tragedy.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
The public needs answers now, says communities secretary
Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, has said the public needs quick answers over the Grenfell Tower fire. "It is very important that we get some quick conclusions" he said. "The final inquiry might take some time but that is not acceptable in terms of having some quick conclusions, both from the inquiry but also from the fire and rescue report."
Javid, speaking on Sky News, cited the Hillsborough report, which within three months led to suggestions for "wholesale changes in football stadiums across the country to make them safer", as an example of how he felt the investigation should proceed.
"As soon as we have information from that fire inspection report," he said, "which we have asked for within days, then we can act on that as well. There are some immediate lessons to be drawn and we cannot wait."
On the issue of rehoming Grenfell Tower residents, Javid said it was "important" that the families were kept in the local area. "I want to see them rehoused either in their local borough or a neighbouring borough, in the local area, and I think that is hugely important."
Javid defended Theresa May's visit to the building yesterday. The PM's visit was unfavourably compared to that made by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, after she did not meet the residents and spoke only to the fire crews and officers on the scene.
"What she wanted to do was speak to the people working on the recovery operation to make sure that they had everything that they've got," Javid said, adding that he would visit the site himself today and would meet residents. He continued: "Different people show their emotion in different ways. The prime minister is a person of action and she wants to help.
"One of the first things that she did as soon as she came back to Downing Street was authorise the release of emergency funding for the local authority so that they had everything that they need."
–Rose Troup Buchanan
For the second day, newspapers have led with the Grenfell Tower fire
The initial devastation has given way to anger as local residents and opposition politicians demand answers in the wake of the tragedy, many noted.
London police are launching a criminal investigation into the deadly Grenfell Tower fire
A criminal investigation has been launched to look into the deadly fire that engulfed Grenfell Tower, Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan police announced Thursday.
The police probe is just one in a series of inquiries that have been called for since authorities said 17 people in the apartment building have so far been confirmed to have died in the blaze. Officials, however, say they expect that number to rise.
Cundy told reporters on Thursday that the investigation did not mean a crime had been committed – only that the Met would be looking into whether one had been.
"As the police, we investigate criminal offences," Cundy said, according to the Associated Press. "I am not sitting here and saying there are criminal offences that have been committed, that's why you do an investigation."
London mayor Sadiq Khan and prime minister Theresa May have both asked for a public inquiry into the blaze.
In a statement on Facebook, Khan said an interim report on the fire should be completed by this summer.
In a statement, Cundy said officials are still working identify those killed in the fire, as well as recover bodies in the 24-story building.
Of the 17 deaths that have been confirmed, he said, six bodies have been recovered and another 11 remain in the charred building.
Only six bodies have been identified, Cundy added.
"It is important to be frank – fires are still breaking out and conditions are very difficult and hazardous for the emergency services in the upper levels of the building," Cundy said in the statement.
Here's why the west London community close to Grenfell Tower is demanding change
Some people living in the area around Grenfell Tower are saying that the tragic fire that has so far claimed the lives of 17 people should be a turning point for those living on the less affluent side of Kensington.
Kholoud El-Jamal, 19, who lives nearby, told BuzzFeed News she was in disbelief as she watched the building, a local landmark, go up in flames.
A day later, she said she hoped the tragedy would lead to great equality and that those in power would take housing concerns more seriously.
"Now that this has happened, it should open people's eyes and show people that this is serious," she said. "Maybe this area isn't as rich, but our lives matter too."
Filmmaker Ishmahil Blagrove told BuzzFeed News that he felt the needs of people who live in social housing were routinely overlooked, with preference given to wealthy residents who own their homes.
"When the average property price in this area is £1.2 million – who do you think can buy it?" he said. "The council listens to the man who owns his house, as opposed to the man who lives in social housing. That is where the crisis from this country is coming from."
Read more here.
Sadiq Khan has published a statement following his earlier news conference in North Kensington
Grenfell fire survivors fear they will be resettled in a completely different area
Survivors of the Grenfell fire disaster, in which at least 17 people have died, have expressed concern they will be permanently resettled in a different borough of London.
Dozens of families who escaped the blaze are either staying with friends and family, in nearby shelters, or in hotels as they start to rebuild their lives and seek new homes.
Housing minister Alok Sharma told a briefing of MPs at Westminster on Thursday that "the government will guarantee that every single family will be rehomed in the local area".
Earlier, Theresa May pledged that "every effort" would be made to re-house the families as close as possible to the tower.
But there was no guarantee that the Grenfell families would be housed in the Kensington and Chelsea borough, and many residents are still worried this won't be the case.
One resident, Eve Wedderburn, 40, told BuzzFeed News: "Don't say this isn't political. This whole thing is political. They have a decamp strategy, which is about rehousing all social tenants outside of the borough. They're rubbing their hands."
Dayo Gilmour, 43, said: "It's social cleansing. There's a 20-vote Labour majority here and they're trying to rid this borough of poor people. The people that live in those houses are people. And some of them are dead. People are angry, this is not going away."
–Patrick Smith and Hannah al-Othman
We spoke to the man behind the viral interview about the Grenfell Tower fire
Sadiq Khan calls for interim response in public inquiry this summer as he is heckled by angry west London residents
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said he welcomed the prime minister's call for a public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire and said an interim response should be published this summer, as he addressed a sometimes angry gathering of local people near the site of the blaze.
Having visited a church which is helping some of those affected, Khan battled through crowds and was flanked by dozens of police officers as he addressed the media and local people, and was repeatedly heckled.
He said he had visited the site of the "horrific" fire, and has been told by the city's fire commissioner that "it would take days, if not weeks" for firefighters and forensic teams to go through the entire block.
His statement was interrupted by several hecklers, with people shouting "these deaths could be prevented" and "we need answers", and bemoaning the lack of help given by the authorities.
Addressing the anger, Khan said: "As you will see, people are understandably very angry and concerned, and have genuine questions, and will demand answers."
He said that while he welcomed Theresa May's ordering of a public inquiry, the judge conducting it should publish an interim response this summer, and that people affected could "not afford to wait a number of years".
Khan called for checks of other tower blocks in London and nationwide to be "undertaken as soon as possible", adding that it is "important these questions are answered and these reassurances can be given".
He said a number of people who had volunteered to help in the aftermath of the blaze were frustrated about the lack of help they had received, and called on Kensington and Chelsea council to help coordinate the distribution of donations.
Khan also praised London's fire service: "The way our firefighters have responded has been breathtaking," he said, adding they had gone "above and beyond the call of duty in their response".
He also said the community's response had showed "the very best of London."
The Metropolitan police told BuzzFeed News they had provisionally identified the bodies of six people, but would not be releasing their names at this time.
Addressing the media outside Scotland Yard on Thursday afternoon, the Met's Commander Stuart Cundy said some of the bodies may not be identified, and that the process could take weeks.
–Francis Whittaker and Sara Spary
Heartbreaking stories of family members seeking information about missing relatives
When survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire broke their fasts last night, people joined in solidarity
"Every single family" displaced by the fire will be rehoused in local area, government minister promises
The government has promised that it will rehome "every single family" displaced by the fire in the local area.
The promise emerged at the end of an hour-and-a-half briefing for MPs, chaired by fire minister Nick Hurd and housing minister Alok Sharma, in Westminster today.
"The government will guarantee that every single family will be rehomed in the local area," Sharma told the room, which had heard from a range of voices.
Jeremy Corbyn called on the government for reassurance that there would be a proper ministerial statement.
"I am very angry," the Labour leader told the room, having just come from Grenfell Tower. Residents there, he said, were ignored and their warnings not heeded. Across the country, he said people needed to be reassured: "They will be frightened, they will be traumatised."
Other MPs to speak included Labour politician Harriet Harman. Her constituency includes the Lakanal House tower block, where six people died after a fire in 2009. Harman said one of the failing from that incident was that residents waited until 2015 for a court case. "This is too slow," she said. Harman said it was vital that the state stepped in and provided help and support for all those who had lost everything.
Veteran Labour MP Hilary Benn said it was vital that all similar tower blocks across the country – of which there are thousands – urgently receive the correct fire safety advice. He said Grenfell Tower block residents were told to stay inside their flats; had they all done so, he said, they would have died.
Conservative MP Jeremy Leroy said that the inquiry should be conducted under the Inquiries Act, in that people be compelled to give evidence under oath.
Summing up, Hurd had said the government must consider the fire a "national tragedy," and praised the "protocol breaking bravery of firefighters".
"We have to act and think if it was our friends and are family in that building," he said. "There is no room for plodding bureaucracy."
–Rose Troup Buchanan
This is what happened when Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn visited the scene of the Grenfell fire
Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn made separate visits to Grenfell Tower in west London on Thursday after a fire in the building killed at least 17 people and left dozens more in hospital.
The prime minister spoke to police officers and emergency services at the bottom of the tower block on Thursday morning, during a visit which was kept private. She did not speak to the media or appear to speak to survivors of the incident. Armed police were at the scene.
Shortly after, the Labour leader arrived later at St Clement's Church and was surrounded by a crowd of local residents who flocked around him as he got out of his car.
Corbyn spent about half an hour inside the church, which has been feeding and sheltering displaced people since yesterday morning.
Alia Al-Ghabbom, who lives on the estate and is helping her friend search for his missing niece Jessica Urbano, met Corbyn inside the church. She told BuzzFeed News: "I live in the block next door. I just said 'thank you for being here, it really means a lot so us', he was really emotional.
"He didn't have so many words, he was just giving me a genuine hug. He was really genuine."
–Hannah Al-Othman & Marie Le Conte
A Syrian refugee is one of the the first victims to be named
A refugee from Syria is one of the first victims of the Grenfell Tower fire to be named.
Mohammad Alhajali, 23, had been in the UK since 2014, a friend told BuzzFeed News.
He was studying civil engineering at the University of West London, which confirmed his death, and he dreamed of returning to Syria to rebuild it, said Abdulaziz Almash.
Almash, who said he was informed of his friend's death by police, told BuzzFeed News that Alhajali was "absolutely a great and passionate individual".
A man was arrested after allegedly taking a picture of a Grenfell Tower victim's body and posting it on Facebook
A man was arrested after pictures of what appeared to be the body of a Grenfell Tower fire victim were posted to Facebook.
Police made the arrest at 6pm on Wednesday near the tower in west London. It is understood the arrest directly relates to the images being posted online, but police would not confirm this.
The pictures – which were still online on Thursday morning but have now been removed – showed a man in a body bag. In one picture the bag was sealed; in several others the man's face was visible.
The Metropolitan police said in a statement: "A 43-year-old man was arrested near to Latimer Road station at around 6pm on Wednesday, 14 June, on suspicion of sending malicious communications and obstructing a coroner.
"The arrest relates to the fire at Grenfell Tower. The man has been to a west London police station where he remains in custody."
You can read more about the incident here. –Patrick Smith
A man reportedly carried his mother down 23 flights of stairs on his back to escape the Grenfell Tower fire
A man and his mother survived the Grenfell Tower fire after he carried her down 23 flights of stairs, a friend of their family told BuzzFeed News.
Fahim Mazhary, 62, a community cohesion worker who lives opposite the tower, said his son's best friend Shakhaib Neda, 24, carried his mother out of the building as the fire raged.
Neda and his mother, who is in her forties, are believed to be in a critical care in hospital. Neda's father Mohammed is still missing.
"Can you imagine the panic in the minutes that you have, and you make it out," Mazhary told BuzzFeed News.
You can read the full story here. –Hannah Al-Othman
PM orders full public inquiry into Grenfell Tower fire
The prime minister has ordered a full public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the huge blaze that engulfed a residential London tower block on Wednesday morning, and which has claimed 17 lives so far.
"What we need to do is to ensure this terrible tragedy is properly investigated," Theresa May said in a video statement this afternoon. "That is why I'm ordering a full public inquiry so we can get to the answers, we can find out exactly what happened and why it happened.
"It is right that, in addition to the immediate fire reports that are being produced and any police investigations, we have a full public inquiry.
"People deserve answers. The inquiry will give them. We need to know what happened, we need to have an explanation of this. We owe that to the families, the people who have lost loved ones, and the homes in which they lived."
May pledged that the government "stands ready to provide every assistance necessary" to the emergency services and the local authority.
The PM, who visited the scene of the fire earlier today, went on to say she wanted to reassure the residents of Grenville Tower that "every effort" would be made to rehouse them in London and as close as possible to their homes in the tower. May said all of those affected were "in our thoughts and prayers".
Her statement comes shortly after Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, demanded a full investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire. Khan praised the work of the emergency services, and said the operation was shifting from the search and rescue phase to the recovery phase.
"Under these circumstances, the full scale of the tragedy is becoming clear and there are pressing questions which demand urgent answers," he said.
In the wake of the fire, chancellor Phillip Hammond said he would no longer be giving a speech at Mansion House this evening. He had been expected to use the speech to oppose a hard Brexit.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
Corbyn: "Some very hard questions now have to be asked" after the Grenfell Tower fire
Speaking to Sky News on Thursday afternoon during his visit to west London, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said authorities have serious questions to answer following the Grenfell Tower fire.
"Some very hard questions now have to be asked and some very hard questions must be answered," Corbyn said.
"The construction of a tower block is essentially a series of concrete boxes, which are the flats. The fire is not supposed to spread from one flat to the other. It is supposed to be contained. It wasn't. It spread. It spread upwards, and it spread outside, as well through the cladding. There are questions on the sprinkler system. Questions on the fire brakes. Questions on why the cladding apparently burnt. Questions on the building control regulations, and questions on the safety.
"Hundreds of thousands of people in our country live in very high-rise tower blocks. Every single person who lives in a high-rise apartment today will be thinking, How safe am I?"
Corbyn paid tribute to the emergency services who responded to the incident: "I would like to thank those brave ambulance workers, paramedics, and police officers who risked their lives to run into a burning building to try and save life and evacuate people. And the response of the fire services: incredible. Within six minutes the first fire appliances on the scene."
He added: "But they are now traumatised, finding bodies, and they're going to have to find more bodies, as they go into this charred wreckage of a building this afternoon and later on today."
He also expressed his sympathy to the residents and their families, and paid tribute to the north Kensington community: "Families are now waiting and not knowing if their loved ones are alive or dead. Not knowing if their children are alive or dead. Not knowing is the hardest part.
"[There has been an] incredible community response, with donations of food and clothing, and all faiths have come together. Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Christians. Everyone has come together to support and I think that's incredible." –Francis Whittaker
"The truth has got to come out," Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says as he visits Grenfell Tower
Addressing members of the community, he said that "we have to get to the bottom of this. The truth has got to come out, and it will."
The Labour leader was also photographed speaking to Matthew Wreck of the Fire Brigades Union as he moved through the area.
Corbyn's visit came after prime minister Theresa May made a short visit this morning, speaking to fire crews and police officers who had been working on the site.
Evacuated resident says she slept outside in the shadow of Grenfell Tower
Kimberley Williams, 31, slept outside last night on a verge of grass close to Grenfell Tower.
She lives in a flat close to the tower that has been damaged by smoke and is currently uninhabitable.
She told BuzzFeed News: "The flat is not going to look good. It's covered in smoke so I've got nowhere else to go."
Pointing at the bare piece of foam she slept on last night, she said: "That's my bed. I don't know when I'll be able to get back in, they're not saying. They're just saying 'you can't get in'. I just went to my flat and the building is rotten.
"I found out about the fire because my dog was barking, and I smelled smoke coming into the flats. Then they kicked the door down, the police."
Williams added: "I'm homeless at the moment, I've got nowhere to go. It's good the weather is nice because otherwise I'd be fucked. Because it's nice I can sleep on the mattress."
At least 17 people have died in the Grenfell Tower fire, police confirm
The number of people who died in the huge fire that engulfed Grenfell Tower block in the early hours of Wednesday morning has risen to 17, the Metropolitan police have confirmed.
The Met's Commander Stuart Cundy, holding a press conference alongside London fire commissioner Dany Cotton, said "yesterday was a very difficult day".
"Sadly I can confirm that the number of people who have died is now 17, and we do believe that number will sadly increase," he said. "Obviously our absolute priority is identify people who are still missing".
He declined to comment on the number of people suspected missing.
"It is going to take a considerable amount of time," as services need to make sure the building was structurally sound as they proceed, he said. This was not a terror-related incident, he also told reporters.
Cotton, speaking before Cundy, said they were working on a plan to undergo a "detailed fingertip search". "Obviously this would be a slow and painstaking process," she said.
She said the fire service will "utilise specialist dog training teams", who would be able to get into otherwise unaccessible pockets of the structurally damaged building. "Dogs are much lighter than people and can cover a greater area," she added.
Cotton declined to comment on where the fire started, reiterating that the investigation into the blaze will take weeks. –Rose Troup Buchanan
Council says "theories" over fire's start will be investigated, but priority remains helping those affected
The Royal Borough of Chelsea and Kensington has said the "immediate priority" in the wake of the fire is to provide emergency housing for those affected, and that "theories" about how the fire started will be thoroughly investigated in due time.
"Our immediate priority is to accommodate the residents of Grenfell Tower, families with young children, the elderly and the vulnerable," the council said in a statement. It said a "rest centre" had been established at Westway Sports Centre.
"We are still placing households and housing officers will work throughout the night to provide assistance and support," it said.
The statement continued: "We have heard a number of theories about the cause of the fire at Grenfell Tower. All of these will be thoroughly investigated as part of the formal investigation which has already begun."
Yesterday, Theresa May confirmed there will be an investigation into the blaze. It comes amid increasing questions about a recent renovation carried out on the block, as well as claims that residents' fears over fire safety were ignored by the local council.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
PM Theresa May visits Grenfell Tower block
The prime minister has visited Grenfell Tower block, talking to fire crews still on the scene.
Theresa May was photographed speaking to firefighters and London fire commissioner Dany Cotton. Yesterday, May promised there would be a full investigation into how the fire spread so quickly, and so rapidly, after expressing her sorrow for all those caught up in the tragic incident.
May also spoke to Metropolitan police officers, who, alongside the fire service, have been on the scene since the fire's outbreak yesterday.
The number of people in critical care has dropped to 17, NHS confirms
Seventeen people remain in critical condition after a horrific fire ripped through a residential tower block in west London, down from 18.
In addition, 37 people are still being treated in six hospitals across the city, the NHS said in a statement.
Ten people are in King's College hospital, six in critical care; Chelsea and Westminster is caring for nine people, with seven in critical; the Royal Free is looking after six people and has one person in critical; Guy's and St Thomas' is treating just one person; and St Mary's is looking after 11 people and staff there are treating three people in critical condition. Charing Cross, as per yesterday evening, confirmed that it had discharged everyone admitted.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
The Queen sends her "thoughts and prayers" for those affected by fire
The Queen has said her thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the west London Grenfell Tower fire.
"My thoughts and prayers are with those families who have lost loved ones in the Grenfell Tower fire and the many people who are still critically ill in hospital," she said.
The statement continued: "Prince Philip and I would like to pay tribute to the bravery of firefighters and other emergency services officers who put their own lives at risk to save others. It is also heartening to see the incredible generosity of community volunteers rallying to help those affected."
The blaze, which erupted shortly before 1am on Wednesday morning, has so far claimed 12 people's lives. Eighteen people remain in critical condition in hospital, and 34 are receiving treatment in six hospitals across the capital.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
Adele, Noel Clarke, and Rita Ora visit Grenfell Tower as they offer to help families and victims
The singer visited families affected by the fire and offered to help during a vigil held near the block last night. Twitter user FourMee who posted a picture of Adele last night, alerted many to her visit.
Tom Maughan, 26, was among those who met Adele last night. He told BuzzFeed News: "She was so nice. She was with her husband, she was going round talking to people.
"She said 'is everyone okay, are the dogs okay?' She was so nice. There's a picture of me hugging her on the internet.
"She stayed about 15 minutes, she tried to keep it on the low. Everyone was happy, she's Adele. There were a few people around, it was about one o'clock in the morning. I made a big scene and everyone else came running.
"She didn't have any security or anything, she just came on her own with her husband. She's got Oscars, she's got Grammys, she friends with Beyoncé! She wasn't even hiding her face, she was in her full glory."
Rita Ora was also on the scene. She said yesterday that she had played at Grenfell Tower as a child, and pitched in with volunteers to help distribute donations.
Also helping was actor Noel Clarke. Clarke, who was on the scene all of yesterday and into the night, helped with donations. He tweeted that he'd moved his mum, who lived near the tower, out early yesterday. Clarke also organised brands like Adidas and Pepsi to get supplies to those affected by the blaze.
–Hannah Al-Othman & Rose Troup Buchanan
The blaze is now out, London fire commissioner confirms, as she says it would be a "miracle" if anyone else was found alive inside block
London's fire commissioner has confirmed that the huge blaze that broke out in the early hours of Wednesday morning has finally been extinguished.
"The fire is now out, there are small pockets of smouldering, you will see wisps of smoke coming out all day due to the heat of the building and the remaining contents," Dany Cotton told Sky News on Thursday morning.
Cotton said her crews, who had worked through the night, were "working very hard to contain the last pockets of fire". More than 300 firefighters, coming from outside London as well as the city, had fought the blaze.
The commissioner said it would be a "miracle" if anyone had survived the blaze. "Tragically we are not expecting to find anyone else alive. The severity of the fire will mean it would be an absolute miracle for anyone to be left alive."
So far 12 people have been confirmed dead, with 18 still in critical condition in six hospitals across the hospital. Officials have been unable to confirm the number of people still missing.
"There are we believe still an unknown number of people in the building," Cotton said. "Due to the severity of the fire and the way things are it will take a long time for us to do that search to properly identify anyone who is left in the building, but we will do that as soon as we can in conjunction with the police."
Cotton said her teams would be moving in to the recovery stage of the operation, once the building's integrity had been secured. "It is not now safe for my fire crews to go all the way out to the edges of the building.
"We have had a structural surveyor come down and assist us last night. We will be working closely today with a search and rescue team who are coming in with a structural surveyor and other specialists to see how we can make it safe so we can continue working with police to do that fingertip search of the rest of the building."
The fire commissioner reiterated that the scene confronted by her firefighters was totally unprecedented, and paid tribute to their tireless work: "The scene I was confronted with was an unparalleled scene to anything I had seen before.
"The building was ablaze. I have truly never seen that in a high-rise building. My crews did absolutely sterling work. They got in there, they were very committed, even though the building was alight from top to bottom and they were in fear of their own lives, they were in and out of that building committing time after time to rescue those people. There was never any hesitation."
She said nine firefighters had received minor injuries, including burns, smoke inhalation, and heat exhaustion. "I was truly concerned about the safety of the building and my firefighters in there. But they were never going to stop until they physically couldn't get in there any more," she said.
"I spoke to some people who were truly distressed," she said, describing how many of her crews had witnessed things they had never anticipated. "They are heroes but they have feelings," she said, talking about an experienced officer who was reduced to tears after witnessing a tower block resident leaping form the building yesterday.
She said she was concerned about the psychological damage many of her crews would face in the future, "Not in the least of all because they knew there were still people in there and they were battling through the heat and they couldn't get there."
Cotton said her crews had identified the flat where the fire is believed to have started, but she refused to speculate on the cause of the fire or the subsequent investigation that politicians, local residents, and those affected are calling for.
"It will take some considerable time," she said of the search operation. "I know that is no solace for the the people who want to hear news of lived people but we want to do this in the best way".
–Rose Troup Buchanan
After outpouring of donations, no more needed say some locals
How the papers covered yesterday's tragedy
Prime minister says investigation will determine "any lessons to be learned"
Theresa May on Wednesday expressed her condolences for those affected by the "appalling tragedy" at Grenfell Tower and said an investigation would determine if there are any lessons to be learned.
"My thoughts are with the victims, their families and all of those who had their homes destroyed," the prime minister said in a statement. "It's impossible to comprehend the horror of what they've been going through."
She added that a "cross-government meeting" had taken place to ensure that the emergency service response was getting all the resources needed.
"Of course, once the scene is secure, once the recovery is complete, then an investigation will take place into the cause of the fire and if there are any lessons to be learned," May said.
Tower managers say they're cooperating fully with the fire investigation
The organisation that manages the Grenfell Tower says it's too early to speculate on what may have caused the fire.
The Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) also said in a statement that it will cooperate fully with investigators "to ascertain the cause of this tragedy".
London Fire Brigade commissioner Dany Cotton told reporters Wednesday that the fire's spread and ferocity was "unprecedented" and "will of course be subject to a major investigation."
The Grenfell Action Group had published a series of blog posts warning of fire safety concerns with KCTMO, a private business that has the contract with the local authority to run its social housing.
In its statement, KCTMO said it was aware that "concerns have been raised historically by residents" and that they will "form part of our forthcoming investigations".
"While these investigations continue with our co-operation, our core priority at the moment is our residents," KCTMO added.
According to a document released by Kensington and Chelsea council after an Freedom of Information Act request from Inside Housing, Grenfell's last fire risk assessment was in December 2015, after the building had received new aluminum cladding as part of a multimillion-pound refurbishment project.
Tower blocks will be checked following the Grenfell fire, minister confirms
Nick Hurd, the Conservative minister for policing and the fire service, has said that residential blocks that have had similar refurbishments to the Grenfell Tower will undergo checks in the wake of the fire.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
The man who warned of the "catastrophic" fire risk at Grenfell Tower almost died in the blaze
A Grenfell Tower resident who wrote a blog post warning that it would take a "catastrophic fire" for the building's landlord to take notice of safety concerns has told BuzzFeed News how he almost died when the tower block was engulfed in flames in the early hours of Wednesday.
Edward Daffarn, 55, is one of the campaigners from Grenfell Action Group, which published a series of blog posts warning of fire safety concerns in the block.
Daffarn told BuzzFeed News how he was overcome by smoke as he tried to escape his 16th floor flat, and was rescued by a firefighter. "There was no fire alarm, no fire alarm went off. I just heard my neighbours' smoke alarm about one o'clock in the morning," he said.
"I had a matter of seconds or I was going to die. This fireman came, he was lying on the ground and opened the fire exit. He touched my leg and that was enough. That enabled me to get out."
NHS issues a breakdown of the numbers remaining in hospital
A total of 74 patients were treated in London hospitals, of which 34 patients currently remain in hospital. 18 of these are in critical condition, the statement confirmed.
Of the 34 being treated, 11 are being cared for at St Mary's hospital, ten at King's College hospital, seven at the Chelsea and Westminster, five at the Royal Free and one at St Thomas's. Charing Cross has discharged the four it was initially treating.
"Across London, we are continuing to respond to the tragic incident at the Grenfell tower block in Kensington. We would like to thank staff across the NHS who have been pulling out all the stops in caring for the patients affected. The commitment, professionalism and outstanding care they have shown is something to be really proud of," Dr Vinod Diwakar, medical director for NHS England, said in a statement.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
Death toll rises to 12 people, Met confirms
Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan police has confirmed that the number of people who died in the Grenfell Tower fire has risen to 12.
He warned that the number may rise again. "Sadly, I don't anticipate there will be further survivors".
Cundy said it was "very, very challenging" to put a number on how many were still missing and that it would be "incredibly irresponsible" to give exact number of those unaccounted for as details of the incident were still emerging.
He noted that the tower held 120 multiple occupancy flats, and confirmed that there were "a considerable number of people who were inside the tower last night".
"This is going to be a long operation...not just today, not just tonight," he added.
Speaking shortly before him, Steve Apter, director of safety and assurance at the London Fire Brigade, said "there are still pockets of fire that are still to be extinguished".
"This was an unprecedented fire in terms of scale, speed, and spread," Apter said, characterising the incident as "traumatic" and "difficult" for firefighters, of whom at the height of the blaze there were 250 working on the site. He paid tribute to their professionalism and dedication to the job.
"We intend to be here until the job is done," he said, and confirmed that firefighters will be there through the night. Almost all of the building has now been provisionally searched, he added.
Paul Woodward of the London Ambulance Service said the LAS had treated 68 patients and taken them to six hospitals across the country. Eighteen remain in critical care, he confirmed, and 10 further people had presented themselves to hospitals.
–Rose Troup Buchanan
Responsibility rests with local authorities, says chair of parliamentary fire safety rescue committee in wake of tragedy
MP David Amess, chair of the all parliamentary fire safety rescue group, said he was devastated by the news of the tragedy but said responsibility lay with the local housing association and authorities.
Amess, speaking to Sky News, said he could not imagine how the friends and families of those killed or hurt would be feeling at the moment.
"It is a terrible, terrible tragedy," he said. Pushed on the recommendations made in the wake of the Lakanal House fire in 2009 he said the committee he chaired "has been a strong advocate of saying sprinklers save lives".
The Conservative MP for Southend west said local building regulations, which had not been reviewed for 11 years, urgently needed to be addressed.
"The responsibly must be with the local authority and the housing associations to ensure that people who are still living in these older tower blocks are safe. They will be very very worried in the wake of this disaster today."
He said these authorities needed to conduct audits immediately to reassure people, although he acknowledged that there were huge financial costs involved. "Today we have had this terrible tragedy, [but] how can anyone put a price on anyone's life?"
It comes amid a growing clamour by local residents who say that they had warned about unsafe conditions in the tower block for years – but were ignored by the local council. –Rose Troup Buchanan
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn calls for ministers to face questions over Grenfell Tower fire
Jeremy Corbyn has said "ministers must be questioned" over the fire at Grenfell Tower in London, after the Conservative government repeatedly delayed a report into new fire standards for housing.
The Labour leader told LBC: "If you deny local authorities the funding they need, then there is a price to pay that's paid by the lack of safety facilities all over the country."
"I think there needs to be some very searching questions asked as quickly as possible in the aftermath of this fire."
He later told Sky News: "Obviously ministers that ... received those reports must be questioned. But today every focus and every concentration must be on saving and protecting life."