London tower fire death toll rises to 79

Claudine Rigal
Juin 26, 2017

At least 79 people are dead or missing and presumed dead following the fire that tore through the 24-story Grenfell Tower in London, police have said.

Fighting back tears as he spoke, Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said five people had been formally identified - but warned that some victims may never be identified.

Cundy said the search and recovery operation was ongoing in the burnt-out 24-storey tower, which was built in 1974 and had received a major refurbishment that was completed a year ago. "And it is incredibly hard to describe the devastation in some parts of that building", Cundy said.

When asked whether the death toll was likely to increase further, he said: "Today I know there are 79 people who are either confirmed dead and have been identified, or are missing and sadly I have to presume are dead".

Cundy says the new number may change as investigation continues.

Inside one of the flats in Grenfell Tower.

People around the country fell silent at 11am to remember those affected by the devastating fire which engulfed Grenfell Tower last Wednesday.

"It is really important that we are clear about the scale of the challenge facing us as our teams search Grenfell Tower to recover those people still inside and return them to their loved ones", he said in a statement.

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

"This is an incredible distressing time for families and they have my commitment that we will do this as quickly as we possibly can", he said.

"If I identify.an issue that is a risk to public safety, we will be sharing that immediately with the relevant authorities", he said.

Cundy said although the building had been subject to a full provisional search "we must now carry out a full forensic and systematic search".

The video of homes reduced to ash and twisted metal were released by the Metropolitan Police on Sunday.

Footage from inside the gutted building has been released, showing the extent of the damage caused by the blaze.

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