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Five London Towers Evacuated Over Fire Safety Concerns | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Residents are evacuated from the Taplow Tower residential block as a precautionary measure following concerns over the type of cladding used on the outside of the building on the Chalcots Estate in north London, Britain, June 23, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Nearly 4,000 residents were forced to leave their apartments in north London late Friday after fire checks carried out in the wake of the deadly Grenfell Tower inferno found the buildings to be unsafe.

The cladding on the five Chalcots Estate towers is similar to that used on Grenfell, widely blamed for the rapid spread of the massive blaze last week that is presumed to have killed 79 people.

Residents were clutching children, pets and small amounts of clothing and food as they emerged from five tower blocks to sleep on air beds in a local sports center after hearing on the news that their buildings were being evacuated.

Fire checks have been carried out on some 600 high-rise buildings across England after a fire ravaged a social tower block in west London last week, killing at least 79 people.

“I know it’s difficult but Grenfell changes everything,” Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council, said in a statement late on Friday. “I don’t believe we can take any risks with our residents’ safety.”

Michelle Urquhart, who has been living in the Chalcots Estate’s Bray tower, said the situation was “frightening”, AFP reported.

“I don’t know where we are going to go.

“One man in a suit said to me ‘you can’t stay here tonight’.

“We have been living in these flats for the last 10 years with this cladding.”

Camden Council was reported early Saturday saying they had secured “hundreds of hotel beds for Chalcots’ residents.

We’re encouraging all residents to stay with friends and family if they can, otherwise we’ll provide accommodation.”

Police investigating the cause of the deadly 24-storey Grenfell Tower blaze have said the fire started in a fridge but spread rapidly due to the use of external cladding on the building, trapping residents in their beds as they slept.

The cladding has since failed all safety checks.

Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack was asked on Friday whether the insulation and aluminium tiles used on Grenfell were acceptable for such buildings. “No they’re not,” she said.

“All I can say at the moment is they don’t pass any of the safety tests. So that will form part of what is a manslaughter investigation.”