Sunday, September 24, 2017 | ePaper

58 assumed dead in tower block blaze: Police

  • Print
Reuters :
At least 58 people were likely killed in a fire which engulfed a London tower block earlier this week, police said on Saturday.
If that death toll is confirmed, it would make the Grenfell Tower blaze the deadliest in London since World War Two.
"Sadly at this time, there are 58 people who we have been told were in Grenfell Tower on the night that are missing and therefore sadly I have to assume that they are dead," Commander Stuart Cundy told reporters.
Cundy added that the figure could change. Police had previously put the death toll at 30.
"The figure of 30 that I gave yesterday is the number that I know, sadly, have, at least, died. So that 58 would include that 30," he said.
Prime Minister Theresa May's government earlier sought to quell anger over the fire, pledging to support the victims of the blaze after protesters jeered her when she visited local residents.
Women comfort each other near the Grenfell apartment tower block in North Kensington, London on June 17. Reuters
Women comfort each other near the Grenfell apartment tower block in North Kensington, London on June 17. Reuters
May was rushed away from a meeting with residents on Friday under heavy police guard as protesters shouted "Shame on you" and hundreds stormed a local town hall calling for justice.
After a botched snap election that lost her party its majority in parliament, May is facing criticism for her response to the blaze which engulfed the 24-storey apartment block of social housing on Wednesday.
Residents of the destroyed tower said May was far too slow to visit the stricken community, that the building had been unsafe and that officials have failed to give enough information and support to those who have lost relatives and their homes.
Asked repeatedly whether she had misread the public mood, May did not answer directly but said the focus was on providing support to the victims.
"What I'm now absolutely focused on is ensuring that we get that support on the ground," May said in a BBC Newsnight interview.
"Government is making money available, we're ensuring that we're going to get to the bottom of what's happened, we will ensure that people are rehoused. But we need to make sure that that actually happens."
May on Saturday chaired a meeting on the government's response to the fire. She also met victims of the fire in Downing Street.
Alongside both police and fire investigations into the blaze, she has promised to set up a public inquiry.
A demonstrator shouts during a march in Westminster, following the fire that destroyed the Grenfell Tower block in London on June 16. Reuters
A demonstrator shouts during a march in Westminster, following the fire that destroyed the Grenfell Tower block in London on June 16. Reuters
She also pledged 5 million pounds ($6.39 million) of support, housing guarantees and help with access to bank accounts and cash. Those who lost their homes will be rehoused within three weeks, she said.
One of her closest allies, Damian Green, defended May on Saturday, adding that a team would go to the area to answer questions from residents.
"The Prime Minister is distraught about what has happened," said Green, who was appointed May's deputy in the wake of the general election.
"We're all desperately sad, we're all angry, but of course none of us as angry as those who were directly affected. I absolutely get why they're angry," Green said.
While the blaze has prompted an outpouring of generosity, with many people donating provisions and clothes, it has also unleashed rage at the authorities as the charred tower was cast as a deadly symbol of a deeply divided society.
Angry protesters chanting "We want justice" stormed their way into the Kensington and Chelsea town hall on Friday.
After a turbulent three months which has seen Britain scarred by three deadly Islamist militant attacks and now the tower blaze, Queen Elizabeth said the mood was deeply sombre but that the British people were resolute in the face of adversity.
"It is difficult to escape a very sombre national mood," Elizabeth said in a message on her official birthday.
"The country has witnessed a succession of terrible tragedies.
"Put to the test, the United Kingdom has been resolute in the face of adversity," Elizabeth said. "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."
Firefighters at the Grenfell Tower block which was destroyed in a disastrous fire in London on June 16. Reuters
Firefighters at the Grenfell Tower block which was destroyed in a disastrous fire in London on June 16. Reuters
Such a direct message from the monarch is rare and indicated the extent of the turmoil in Britain.
Opponents said May's handling of the fire has thrust her position further into doubt by showing a failure to feel the public mood and act decisively.
After a tumultuous week that pitched Britain into its deepest political crisis since the Brexit referendum a year ago, May's future was already uncertain due to her failed gamble on a snap election.
Britain is now likely to go into arduous talks on Monday about its exit from the European Union with a weakened leader who is dependent on a small Northern Irish party.
Matthew Parris, a columnist and former Conservative lawmaker, said May's response to the fire had shown a lack of judgment which made her unsuitable to be prime minister.
"Wallowing in the wash of a general election that stripped our prime minister of her authority on the very eve of EU negotiations, neither common sense nor the evidence suggest she can re-establish public confidence," Parris wrote in the Times.
"This prime minister is not viable."

More News For this Category

Myanmar proposes meeting with BD

Dhaka Tribune :Myanmar, who’s brutal military campaign in Rakhine state forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya flee to Bangladesh, has finally proposed a meeting with Dhaka to find a solution

Int`l Tribunal found Myanmar guilty of genocide

Myanmar is guilty of genocide against the Rohingya people, according to the verdict of International Permanent Peoples' Tribunal. A seven-member panel announced the verdict on Friday after considering documentary

Rohingya villages still burning

Staff Reporter :Amnesty International (AI) has said new satellite images and videos from Myanmar's strife-torn Rakhine State show smoke rising from Rohingya Muslim villages, contradicting Aung San Suu Kyi's claims

About 1,400 Rohingya children arrive without parents

About 1,400 Rohingya children arrive without parents

About 1,400 Rohingya children have arrived in Bangladesh without their parents fleeing violence in Rakhine State of Myanmar.Their parents were either killed or missing in the wake of a brutal

Army joins relief efforts

Army joins relief efforts

Staff Reporter :Bangladesh Army on Saturday started to work on the relief efforts and rehabilitation of Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar.Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) Director Lt Col Rashidul Hasan confirmed

Mobile operators asked not to sell pvt SIM to Rohingyas

Staff Reporter :State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Tarana Halim on Saturday said, the government will take action against private mobile operators if they have sold SIM to Rohingyas.The state

Landmines deadly for fleeing Rohingyas: HRW

Staff Reporter :Myanmar security forces have laid landmines during attacks on villages and, along the Bangladesh border, posing a grave risk to Rohingya Muslims fleeing atrocities, Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Trump blasts Republican Obamacare rebels

US President Donald Trump has hit out at Republicans who are refusing to back the latest effort to repeal Obama-era healthcare legislation.Speaking in Alabama, he said senators from his party

Half of UNSC ask Guterres to publicly brief on Myanmar

United Nations (Reuters) : Seven members of the United Nations Security Council, including the United States and Britain, on Friday asked U.N. chief Antonio Guterres to publicly brief the 15-member

SAARC summit uncertain again!

Times of India :For the second year in a row, there may be no SAARC summit. India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan had pulled out of the 2016 SAARC summit citing Pakistan's