“Sadly I can confirm that there are now 12 people who 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,” Police Commander Stuart Cundy told reporters.
More than 200 firefighters, backed up by 40 fire engines, fought for hours to try to bring the Grenfell Tower block blaze – one of the most treacherous seen in London for a generation – under control.
Police Commander Stuart Cundy said a “recovery operation” could take some time and there could be people in the building who are unaccounted for, though he would not be drawn on a figure.
Fire-fighting crews still had to reach the top four floors of the building where several hundred people live in 130 apartments.
The cause of the fire, which left the tower block a charred, smoking shell, was not immediately known.
The block had recently undergone an 8.7 million pound ($11.08 million) refurbishment of the exterior, which included new external cladding, replacement windows and curtain wall facades.
Plumes of black smoke billowed high into the air over the British capital for hours after the blaze broke out. Residents rushed to escape through smoke-filled corridors after being woken up by the smell of burning.
London Fire Brigade said the fire engulfed all floors from the second to the top of the 24-storey block. There were reports that some residents leapt out of windows to escape the flames.
One woman lost two of her six children as she tried to escape from the block, one witness said.
“I spoke to a lady that lives on the 21st floor. She has got six kids. She…
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