Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy confirmed that the force now believes at least 79 people are dead or missing, presumed dead. The previous figure given was 58.
Members of London’s emergency services observe a minutes’ silence in memory of the victims of the June 14 fire at the Grenfell Tower block, pictured on the horizon, in Kensington, west London, on June 19, 2017.
Cundy said the search and recovery operation was ongoing in the burnt-out 24-storey tower.
“And it is incredibly hard to describe the devastation in some parts of that building”.
“It is incredibly emotional working in there, but we will do it with our utmost professionalism, and we will do everything we can as quickly as we can to locate and recover everybody who is in there”, Cundy said.
“It’s hard to describe my feelings, because I can not imagine, and I would not want to put myself in the position of those families who have lost their loved ones”. Commander Cundy told reporters the “awful reality” was that it might not be possible to identify all the victims.
Commander Cundy added authorities were investigating whether any crimes had been committed as part of the incident.
Officials and UK Chancellor Philip Hammond have indicated that the external rain-screen cladding believed to be the cause of the rapid spread of the fire at the Grenfell Tower may have been banned under building regulations in the UK.
Five people who had been missing following the fire at Grenfell Tower have been found “safe and well”.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, criticised shortly after the blaze for failing to meet with victims, says the public inquiry looking into the tragedy will report directly to her. She also says she will receive daily reports from the stricken neighborhood.
A photo released by the Metropolitan Police shows a view of an apartment in the Grenfell Tower, which was devastated by a fire last Wednesday.
The fire has prompted warnings about fire safety risks in many other council tower blocks built in the same era.