Police: 58 missing and presumed dead in London apartment fire

By Daniel Uria   |   June 17, 2017 at 1:07 PM
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June 17 (UPI) -- Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy announced Saturday that 58 people are missing and presumed dead after the fire at Grenfell Tower in London, England.

Cundy, speaking outside Notting Hill Methodist Church, confirmed the previous death toll of 30 but said 28 more people likely died in the fire at the 24-story apartment building on Wednesday.

"We've worked tirelessly to confirm the number of people who we believe were in the tower on the night and, at this time we cannot assume they are safe and well," he said. "Sadly at this time there are 58 people who we were told were in Grenfell Tower on the night, who were missing, who I have to assume are dead."

Police also identified the first known victim of the fire, 23-year-old Mohammed Al-Habjali, who lived in Grenfell Tower.

"His family is being supported by liaison officers from the Metropolitan Police," Cundy said.

Metropolitan Police said family liaison officers have been deployed to support 52 families of residents who died, were injured or were reported missing.

Cundy also said the London Fire Brigade searched "every floor of the building" and recovered 16 bodies, but added it may take weeks for the search and recovery operation to become "significant.

"Both myself and colleagues from London Fire Brigade have already said it will take weeks. It may take longer than that. My commitment to families is that as soon as we can, we will locate and recover their loved ones," Cundy said. "The reason we had to pause the search and recovery yesterday was for the safety of our staff. We do not want another fatality arising out of this tragedy."

As the investigation began, Cundy urged missing residents who are alive and have not come forward to contact authorities to ensure their safety.

"I would like to ask anyone who was in Grenfell Tower that night, but for whatever reason has not told us they are safe to please call our Casualty Bureau," he said. "It does not matter why you have not told us, what is important is that we know you are safe."

After she met with fire victims, volunteers and local leaders, British Prime Minister Theresa May said support for families following the fire was "not good enough."

"I have heard the concerns and I have ordered immediate action across the board to help victims' relatives and the survivors. People lost everything in the fire and were left in only the clothes they were wearing. I can confirm that a 5 million pound ($6 million) emergency fund that I announced yesterday is now being distributed on the ground so people can buy clothes, food and other essentials. If more funding is required, it will be provided," May said, while more than 1,000 protesters rallied outside her residence Saturday.

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