Death toll in London tower block fire rises to 79

Police say 79 people are now dead or missing presumed dead after the fire at Grenfell Tower in west London.

Only five victims have been formally identified – and Cundy said that because of the fire’s intensity and the devastation it caused, authorities may not be able to identify everybody who died.

The search and recovery operation in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower continues, he said, adding that it has been incredibly distressing for families.

Cundy explained that one of the reasons identification has been so hard is because dental records are needed from victims who hailed from different countries around the world.

“Equally, there may be people who thankfully may have managed to escape the fire and for whatever reason have not let their family or friends or police know”, he said.

Of those injured in the fire, 18 people remain in hospitals across London, nine of them in critical care.

The police chief, who went inside the charred shell of the high-rise tower over the weekend, told reporters: “I’ve investigated major crime for most of my service and I’ve seen some bad things but I don’t think anything prepared me for what I was going to see when I was in there”.

However, the HKIS has recommended a thorough inspection of the cladding material in terms of fire risks and whether there is the presence of the inflammable polyethylene, which is being blamed for the Grenfell Tower fire.

“If something needs to be done to make buildings safe, it will be done”, finance minister Philip Hammond told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.

“So there are two separate questions”. The investigation will include areas such as the construction, renovation and maintenance of the building and fire safety procedures, he said.

Rydon, the company that carried out the recent refurbishment, said the “project met all required building regulations”.

“I would like to reassure everybody that we will be looking at all criminal offences that might have been committed by any individual or any organisation”, Cundy said.

A minute’s silence was held across Britain at 1000 GMT (6.00 a.m. ET) to honor the victims of the fire – a painfully familiar ritual after the country has been hit by three deadly attacks by militants in London and Manchester since March.

Residents will be given £500 in cash followed by a bank payment for the rest from Monday and the money will come from the £5 million fund announced by Theresa May on Friday.