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London fire death toll climbs up to 17

LONDON FIRE DEATH TOLL CLIMBS UP TO 17

The number of confirmed fatalities from Wednesday's inferno in a West London residential block is now 17, British police have said.

This number is likely to rise still further, Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy warned.

The news came as Prime Minister Theresa May visited the scene of the deadly blaze, promising a full investigation into the catastrophe.

The remains of a number of people are still inside the ruins of Grenfell Tower, in north Kensington. The chances of finding anyone alive are now are very slim, according to emergency services.

Thirty-seven people are still receiving treatment in hospitals across London, with 17 still in a critical condition.

Describing the fire that started around 1 a.m. local time Wednesday morning as "an unprecedented incident," London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said: "In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything on this scale."

The fire rapidly spread around the 24-story building, trapping most of the residents who lived on its upper floors.

Many people from the lower floors had a chance to escape the inferno, including some who were alerted by Muslim residents who were awake for their early-morning suhoor dinner-a meal eaten before fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.

Tariq Gotteeh, a resident of the block, said he was one of the first who had noticed the fire.

He said: "I was up for the suhoor. I was taking the rubbish out. I felt a strange smell... I checked around and saw the flames."

Meanwhile, the only Turkish family living in Grenfell Tower escaped with minor injuries and are now receiving medical treatment.

The Turkish embassy in London said Consul-General Cinar Ergin visited Sener and Hanife Macit, who are receiving treatment at the Royal Free Hospital in north London.

Approximately 600 people lived in Grenfell Tower's 120 apartments.

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