The death toll resulting from last week’s fire at Grenfell Tower in West London has now risen to 79, Metropolitan Police have presumed.
Five victims have been formally identified while a further 74 are missing and presumed dead.
Metropolitan police commander Stuart Cundy said: “Sadly, as of this morning, I am afraid to say there are now 79 people who we believe are now dead or missing and we have to presume they are dead.”
He added: “We must also prepare people for the terrible reality that some people may not be identified due to the intensity of the fire.”
Speaking of the conditions inside the block, Cundy commented that they were ‘indescribable’, which is why the task is likely to take several weeks to complete.
Tributes to victims of last week’s fire at Grenfell Tower. Credit: PA
He also said that five people who were reported missing had now been found safe and well, while 17 people are still being treated in London hospitals, nine of whom remain in critical care.
London Fire Brigade boss Dany Cotton was one of the first on the scene and described the horrendous sight that she was met with upon her arrival.
Speaking to The Guardian, she said: “When I arrived I got out of my car and looked up at Grenfell Tower. My first thought was that it looked like something out of a disaster movie, like something that could never happen in London.
“Sometimes we have buildings that are under refurbishment, that are covered in scaffolding and netting, and when [these] catch fire it looks dramatic and everything blazes, but it doesn’t affect the flats. But I thought, ‘These are actually premises on fire’, and it was a truly shocking moment, looking at that for the first time.”
Cotton was only six months into her new job of running one of the country’s busiest fire brigades, in which time there have been several terrorist incidents and the atrocity at Grenfell Tower.
During her shift, last Tuesday, she had to make the difficult decision of whether or not to send her firefighters in to the burning tower block.
“I did a dynamic risk assessment and we knew we were going to be doing things that were not following our normal procedures,” she said.
“That’s very difficult for me. I’m in charge of London fire brigade, and I was committing firefighters into something that was very unknown and very dangerous.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan spoke yesterday of the mood in the city, saying that the local community was ‘frustrated’ and ‘angry’ in the wake of the blaze.
He also commented that the fire followed ‘years of neglect from the council and successive governments’ and branded the blaze a ‘preventable accident’.
It has emerged that the material used in the cladding that covered Grenfell Tower was a material called Reynobond PE – a cheaper, more flammable version of two available options.
A minute’s silence was observed across the country on Monday morning to pay tribute to those people who so tragically lost their lives last week, as well as the survivors who have been left without their homes and possessions.
Words: Paddy Maddison