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At least 12 dead in Grenfell Tower inferno

London Fire Brigade said the cause of the fire was still being investigated.

Twelve people have died and more are feared dead after a huge fire destroyed a tower block in west London.

Flames tore through the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in north Kensington overnight, leaving people trapped on upper floors – some holding babies out of windows and others jumping from their flats.

Some bodies have been removed from the smouldering remains of the building, which contains 120 flats thought to be home to between 400 and 600 people.

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Many people are still unaccounted for and firefighters are continuing to tackle “pockets of fire” in the block.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the operation had moved from rescue to the “recovery phase”, as emergency crews search for bodies among the charred wreckage.

Sadly, it has been confirmed that 12 people are now known to have died as a result of the horrific fire at Grenfell...

Posted by Sadiq Khan on Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan Police said: “Sadly I can confirm that there are now 12 people that have died that we know of.

“This is going to be a long and complex recovery operation and I do anticipate that the number of fatalities will sadly increase beyond those 12.”

London Fire Brigade said it had rescued 65 people as flames engulfed the block.

Steve Apter, director of safety and assurance at London Fire Brigade, said firefighters had battled through “particularly arduous conditions” to reach the top floor.

Mr Cundy said that while every floor had been accessed, the whole building had not been searched, adding: “I don’t anticipate that there will be further survivors.”

NHS England said 74 patients were treated in six hospitals across London. Thirty four patients remain in hospital including 18 who are in critical care.

There have been calls for a major investigation amid questions about how the fire spread so rapidly through the block.

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Built in 1974, Grenfell Tower was recently refurbished at a cost of £8.6 million, with work completed in May last year.

Kensington and Chelsea Borough council admitted it had received complaints over the works, after a residents’ action group said its warnings about safety had fallen on “deaf ears”.

Council leader Nick Paget-Brown said: “It is undoubtedly the case that the council received some complaints about the way the work was being conducted.

“But we will need to look much more closely at how much of that corresponds to the cause of today’s fire.”

A blog post from Grenfell Action Group in November said “only a catastrophic event” would expose the concerns residents had.

The group said there was one entry and exit to the tower during improvement works and it had issues with evacuation procedures.

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Rydon, the firm that carried out the work, said the project “met all required building regulations”, in its latest statement following the fire.

But a line stating that the project had met all “fire regulation and health and safety standards”, which was included in an earlier release, had disappeared.

Prime Minister Theresa May was said to be “deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life” and newly appointed police and fire minister Nick Hurd will chair a meeting of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat to co-ordinate the response.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said “searching questions” need to be asked about what happened, suggesting spending cuts could have contributed to the deadly fire.

He said: “If you deny local authorities the funding they need, then there is a price that’s paid.”

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton earlier told reporters: “This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale.”

London Fire Brigade said the cause of the fire is still being investigated, but several residents reported one man had said it started in his faulty fridge.

Witnesses said the fire spread rapidly and traumatic accounts have emerged of the desperate attempts made by residents to flee the flames.

Samira Lamrani said she saw a woman try to save a baby by dropping it from a window “on the ninth or 10th floor” to waiting members of the public below.

Tiago Etienne, 17, heard people pleading for help and saw children being thrown out “from as high as about the 15th floor” to be caught by firefighters and police.

Local councillor Judith Blakeman, who lives opposite the tower, rushed outside when she heard about the blaze at 5am.

She said: “Neighbours had been watching it all night, they said the cladding went up like a nightdress by a fire – it just went whoosh.”

Residents who escaped complained there had been no fire alarm, with many relying on neighbours to wake them as the blaze spread, and said official advice in the event of a fire had been to stay inside.

Michael Paramasivan, who was in his seventh floor flat with girlfriend Hannah West, 23, and her daughter Thea, five, said: “If we’d listened to them and stayed in the flat we’d have perished.”

The 37-year-old said there were “explosions everywhere you looked”.

He told the Press Association: “About 12 floors up I saw three children waving from a window and then there was just an explosion and they disappeared.

“They were three kids, they were banging on the windows, you could see their silhouettes and then bang, it just went up.”

Flowers have been placed beside the taped-off police cordon at the scene.

Attached to a mixed bouquet was a card with the message: “Love and prayers to the families and victims. Justice has to be done. People before money. RIP.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the response from the community had been an “extraordinary sight”.

He told the BBC: “As we’ve seen, and we saw in Manchester as well of course, is just everyone coming together when there is a tragedy on this scale.

“And just outpouring of the most extraordinary love and generosity, and people just getting stuck in – putting their own interests aside.

“It’s just incredible.”

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