Death toll rises to 30 in London apartment fire
LONDON (KUSI) — The death toll from a fire that engulfed a London high rise apartment building has risen to 30 and is expected to continue growing, London police said.
Currently, 24 victims of the fire are being treated for their wounds, including 12 in critical condition, according to Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy.
The cause of the fire is still unknown at this time, however authorities said they’ve examined the original location of fire and there is no indication it was started deliberately.
Relatives of those missing are searching frantically for their loved ones, as the police commander in charge of the investigation said he hopes the death toll will not rise to three figures. It is believed that not all of the victims will be identifiable because of the severity of the burns.
British Prime Minister Theresa May announced a 5 million pound ($6.4 million) fund Friday following a meeting with survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. This comes after the news that London Mayor Sadiq Khan wrote an open letter to the prime minister demanding her plans to help those affected by the fire. The package includes a guarantee to rehouse people as close as possible to where they previously lived, either in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea or in neighboring boroughs.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince William arrived at a west London site where community groups gathered supplies for those affected by the fire. The queen is meeting with volunteers Friday. The monarch expressed her sympathies to families of victims of the blaze.
In the summer of 2016, the building underwent a massive refurbishment, which included insulated exterior cladding, new double-glazed windows and a new communal heating system, with "the goal of improving energy efficiency."
The refurbishment also included improvements for fire safety.
According to CNN, the company that managed Grenfell Tower had recently placed their fire safety policy under review, but the principal contractor said all building and safety regulations had been met.
But in November of 2016, a blogger argued that only "a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord … and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders."
Britain’s Guardian newspaper is reporting that cladding used on the high-rise structure was made of the cheaper, more flammable material of two types offered by the manufacturer.
The newspaper said Friday that Omnis Exteriors manufactured the aluminum composite material used in the cladding. It quoted director John Cowley as saying that Omnis had supplied Reynobond PE cladding.
This type of cladding is 2 pounds cheaper ($2.56) per square meter than the alternative Reynobond FR, which stands for "fire resistant".
Cowley was quoted by the Guardian as saying: "We supplied components for a system created by the design and build team on that project."