The death toll in an apartment building fire in London has risen to 17 and is likely to rise even further, police said Thursday, with many people still missing and firefighters facing hazardous conditions as they searched the charred carcass.
“Sadly I can confirm that the number of people that have died is now 17,” Metropolitan Police commander Stuart Cundy said in a televised statement on Thursday.
But Cundy said that there is no suggestion the blaze was terror-related.
Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton also said specialist dogs would start searching the 24-story building that was engulfed in flames in the early hours of Wednesday.
Cotton told ITV that her crews had reached the top floor of the building and conducted initial visual searches from doorways but had not done a comprehensive search because it was unsafe.
“We’ve got structural surveyors and my urban search and rescue team who are going to come down, make an assessment and find a way of making the building safe so that we can go through the whole building, fingertip search, painstakingly, looking to see what’s in there,” she said.
Prime Minister Theresa May visited the scene of the tragedy in west London and spoke with emergency services. She later ordered a full public inquiry into the fire.
May said an inquiry, which is an official review of government action, was needed to ensure “this terrible tragedy is properly investigated”.
There were believed to be around 600 people in Grenfell Tower when the fire started and dozens are still missing.
Meanwhile, 44 households were given emergency accommodation. The local council said families with young children, elderly residents and the vulnerable were given “immediate priority.”
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip have paid tribute to the firefighters whose bravery prevented a greater loss of life in the high-rise fire.
The monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh also have hailed volunteers offering support to dozens of victims from the devastating blaze.
The queen said: “Prince Philip and I would like to pay tribute to the bravery of firefighters and other emergency services officers who put their own lives at risk to save others.”