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Number of Presumed Dead in London Fire Rises to 79

  • VOA News

Members of the emergency services attend a minute's silence for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire near the site of the blaze in North Kensington, London, June 19, 2017.

London police said Monday there are now 79 people presumed dead from last week's fire at a public housing building.

Commander Stuart Cundy said he expects the ongoing search and recovery effort to last "many, many weeks," as authorities work to identify the victims.

This handout image received by local resident Natalie Oxford early on June 14, 2017 shows flames and smoke coming from a 27-storey block of flats after a fire broke out in west London.
This handout image received by local resident Natalie Oxford early on June 14, 2017 shows flames and smoke coming from a 27-storey block of flats after a fire broke out in west London.

"The awful reality, as I've said before, is that due to the intensity of the fire and the devastation within Grenfell Tower that we may not be able to identify everybody that died," Cundy told reporters.

He said the important thing is to find answers for the families that have been affected.

Cundy said investigators are looking at how the building was constructed, a recent refurbishment, maintenance and fire safety measures.

Growing anger

On Sunday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan acknowledged growing public anger surrounding the fire, saying it was a result of "mistakes and neglect."

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaks after meeting victims and volunteers of the Grenfell apartment tower fire at a church in north Kensington, London, June 18, 2017.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaks after meeting victims and volunteers of the Grenfell apartment tower fire at a church in north Kensington, London, June 18, 2017.

"There is a feeling from the community that they've been treated badly because some of them are poor," Khan said after a visit to a church near the burnt-out social housing block to attend a service which remembered victims of Wednesday's tragedy.

He called the fire a "preventable accident," acknowledging the anger and frustration of displaced residents of the working-class enclave in one of Britain's wealthiest districts.

The 1974 concrete building had recently been fitted with new insulation cladding. Survivors of the building claim that cheap materials for the cladding and a lack of maintenance on the building were to blame for the fatal fire.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced a public inquiry into the disaster as police investigate whether any criminal offenses were committed.

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