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London: Death Toll Rises To 12 In Grenfell Tower Blaze |The Republican News

Sunita Patel-Carstairs

           Firefighter: It was like 9/11… it was unbelievable (PA)
 

At least 12 people have died in a huge fire on a West London estate, but officials expect the death toll to rise with residents missing and 18 people in critical care.

Firefighters were called to the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in North Kensington at 12.54am on Wednesday after the blaze broke out.

It is reported to have been sparked by an exploding fridge.

Debris fell from the tower as it was engulfed by a huge inferno                    Debris fell from the tower as it was engulfed by a huge inferno

Witnesses described how they watched people jump out of the high-rise block, while a baby was dropped out of a window and caught on the street below.

Six hospitals across the capital are treating 69 people, with 18 in critical care.

Police warned the number of dead is expected to rise during “a complex recovery operation over a number of days”.

Police and fire services attempted to evacuate the concrete block and said 'a number of people are being treated for a range of injuries'     © AFP/Getty Police and fire services attempted to evacuate the concrete block and said ‘a number of people are being treated for a range of injuries’  

Emergency teams have been seen carrying bodies from the remains of the building.

Grenfell Tower, built in 1974, contains 120 flats and is thought to have been home to between 400 and 600 people.

Friends and relatives of those missing are using social media to appeal for information about their loved ones.

Firefighters are making their way up the tower block                    Firefighters are making their way up the tower block  

More than 200 firefighters and 44 fire engines battled the blaze on Wednesday, with some sustaining “minor injuries”.

A structural engineer assessed the tower’s stability but judged the building was not in danger of collapsing.
                     © USA Today Sports  

Sky News Correspondent Mark White, who is on the Latimer Road side of the tower block, reported the fire has now “for the most part died down” but “every now and again there’s still an eruption of flames from one of the window”.

He added firefighters had been “making their way systematically through flat after flat, room after room” as they search through the debris and collapsed ceilings for those unaccounted for.

Their work is expected to last into Thursday, with drones also being used to search the building.

Smoke billows from a fire that has engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London.© PA Smoke billows from a fire that has engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in West London.  

The inferno affected every floor of the tower block, which is on the Lancaster West Estate, near the Westfield shopping centre.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton described the blaze as an “unprecedented incident”, something she had not seen in her 29 years of service.

She said the cause of the blaze was not yet known and was being investigated.

                         © PA  

The fire has led to the closure of London Underground services between Hammersmith and Edgware Road on the Circle and Hammersmith and City lines.

The A40 is closed between Marylebone Road and the Northern Roundabout with other local roads and bus services affected.

As the fire ravaged the tower block, mini explosions could be heard as the blaze shattered windows in the tower, while debris and ash fell to the ground.

Smoke billows from a fire that has engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London© PA Smoke billows from a fire that has engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in West London  

Mahad, who escaped Grenfell Tower, said the blaze began when his neighbour’s fridge exploded.

He told Sky News: “There was no alarm, there was no bell, there was no sense of urgency.

“My neighbour is the one who knocked on our door. He said it was his house where the explosion happened. He said his fridge had exploded.”

Crews were called just before 1am to the high rise block - Grenfell Tower on the Lancaster West housing estate in White City© Getty Crews were called just before 1am to the high rise block – Grenfell Tower on the Lancaster West housing estate in White City  

Concerns had previously been raised about both the building’s fire safety and evacuation procedures.

A local residents group said its previous warnings about safety had fallen on “deaf ears”. In its blog post dated from November 2016, the group warned “only a catastrophic event” would expose the issues residents had with the building – including its single entry and exit point.

Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick, the secretary of the all-party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Group, said the Government has resisted calls to install sprinkler systems in high-rise blocks in the wake of the 2009 Lakanal House tragedy.

© Getty Residents of the tower block have been encouraged to go to the nearby Westway Sports Centre as other relief centres reach capacity.

The Salvation Army and St Clements Church are urging the public to donate clothes, food and toiletries for those displaced by the fire.

             © Getty  

London mayor Sadiq Khan said a “great many questions” would be asked about the fire, which has been declared a “major incident”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested spending cuts to local authorities funding could have contributed to the blaze as he claimed “searching questions” would come from the tragedy.

Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “deeply saddened” by the “tragic loss of life” and called an emergency cross-government meeting.

SkyNews

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