May earmarks relief money for London fire victims; death toll at 30

"The government is there for them," the British prime minister said Friday.
By Doug G. Ware  |  June 16, 2017 at 4:00 PM
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June 16 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday announced relief funds for people affected by the massive apartment fire in London this week that killed 30 people and spawned growing calls for more government help.

May announced £5 million, or $6.4 million, in aid to help victims of the Grenfell Tower fire pay for emergency supplies like food, clothing and other items.

"They have been left with nothing -- no bank cards, no money, no means of caring for their children or relatives," the prime minister said in a statement Friday. "One woman told me she had escaped in only her top and underwear."

The prime minister's effort came as investigators try to figure out how the raging inferno started at the tower in the North Kensington neighborhood of west London. Authorities say at least 30 people have died from the blaze, which engulfed the Grenfell Tower early Wednesday morning.

"Everyone affected by this tragedy needs reassurance that the government is there for them," May added.

BBC News reported Friday that about 40 additional people remain missing. Dozens were also injured in the fire, including 12 who remain in critical condition.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince William visited with people affected by the fire Friday at a makeshift gathering place to counsel friends and relatives.

Protesters upset with how the British government has so far handled the aftermath continued calls Friday for greater assistance. Friday, some heckled May and chanted "coward" as she made her address at London's St. Clement's Church.

Officials said Friday they are doing everything they can to relocate those displaced by the tower. British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn proposed putting some of them up in empty luxury homes owned by wealthy residents of the area -- which is a fairly affluent neighborhood.

"I'm here to get some answers," protester Kais Khaldoun told the New York Times. "Kensington is one of the richest areas, how did they allow this negligence? How did they allow this tragedy to happen when it could have easily been avoided?"

Officials said due to the nature of their deaths, it's possible all of the victims of the fire might not be conclusively identified. Forensic analysts are using DNA and dental methods to try and identify some of the discovered remains.

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