LONDON (AP) — They banged on windows, screamed for help, dropped children from smoky floors in a desperate attempt to save them. Terrified residents of the Grenfell Tower said there was little warning of the inferno that engulfed their high-rise apartment building and left 12 people dead — a toll that officials said would almost certainly rise.
The blaze early Wednesday in the 24-story building in west London’s North Kensington district also injured 79 others, 18 of them critically, and left an unknown number missing. A tenants’ group had complained for years about the risk of a fire.
More than 200 firefighters worked through the night and were still finding pockets of fire inside later in the day. A huge plume of smoke wafted across the London skyline and left a burned-out hulk in the working class, multi-ethnic neighborhood.
“In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never, ever seen anything of this scale,” Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said.
Up to 600 people lived in 120 apartments in the Grenfell Tower. After announcing the updated death toll of 12 in the afternoon, Cmdr. Stuart Cundy said that “we believe this number will sadly increase.”
Crews rescued a total of 65 people, said Steve Apter, the fire brigade’s director of safety and assurance.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said she was “deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life” in the fire. Mayor Sadiq Khan said many questions must be answered about safety for the scores of other apartment blocks around the British capital.
The London Fire Brigade said it received the first…
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