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Death toll hits 30 - and it is likely to increase significantly - after 24-storey Grenfell Tower in London

PUBLISHED: 11:32 14 June 2017 | UPDATED: 12:39 16 June 2017

Smoke billows from the fire that engulfed the Grenfell Tower in west London, claiming at least a dozen lives. Picture: JONATHAN BRADY/PA WIRE

Smoke billows from the fire that engulfed the Grenfell Tower in west London, claiming at least a dozen lives. Picture: JONATHAN BRADY/PA WIRE

JONATHAN BRADY

The Grenfell Tower death toll has increased again as police reveal some of the victims of the devestating blaze may never be identified.

Smoke pours from a fire that has engulfed the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in west London Picture: Steve Paston/PA Wire Smoke pours from a fire that has engulfed the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in west London Picture: Steve Paston/PA Wire

It has been confirmed that at least 30 people have died, but that figure is is expected to rise in the coming days, Scotland Yard has said.

More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the horrific blaze at the 24-storey tower block just after 1.15am on Wednesday morning.

Searches for people who are still missing are continuing frantically today.

Specialist earch teams have recovered six bodies so far, while 11 have been found inside the gutted tower, but cannot yet be removed.

Metropolitan Police commander Stuart Cundy has said he hopes the death toll will not exceed 100.

“From a personal perspective, I really hope it isn’t,” he said.

“For those of us that have been down there, it’s pretty emotional, so I hope it is not triple figures, but I can’t be drawn on the numbers.”

Mr Cundy could also not rule out the possibility that some victims may never be identified, such was the ferocity of the blaze.

Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. Picture: AP Photo/Matt Dunham Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. Picture: AP Photo/Matt Dunham

He added: “It may be - and I just don’t know - it may be that ultimately some victims remain unidentified.

“I won’t know that until we’ve gone through the full recovery from Grenfell Tower and we know exactly what we’ve got and I anticipate that is going to take a considerable period of time.

“Not just the immediate recovery of the bodies we have found, but the full search of that whole building, we could be talking weeks, we could be talking months - it is a very long process.

“There is a risk that sadly we may not be able to identify everybody.”

Widespread appeals continue for those who have been lost or not heard from since the fire, including children such as 12-year-old Jessica Urbano, and whole families, including Rania Ibrahim and her two daughters Fathia, five, and Hania, three.

Yesterday, London mayor Sadiq Khan was heckled by an angry crowd as he passed through the west London neighbourhood, with some demanding to know how he planned to handle the crisis.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Theresa May has been widely criticised for not visiting displaced residents when she visited the site.

It came as she ordered a full public inquiry into the tragedy in response to mounting anger that the fire might have been preventable.

Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London. Picture: AP Photo/Matt Dunham Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London. Picture: AP Photo/Matt Dunham

On Thursday police also confirmed they had launched a criminal investigation into the matter.

More than £1million has been raised to help those affected by the fire so far, with more than 60 tonnes of donations collected by one local mosque.

Speaking at the scene on Wednesday, London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said: “This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale.”

Actor and writer Tim Downie, who lives around 600 metres from the scene in Latimer Road, told the Press Association: “It’s horrendous. The whole building is engulfed in flames. It’s gone. It’s just a matter of time before this building collapses.

Smoke and flames rise from Grenfell Tower. Picture: AP Photo/Matt Dunham Smoke and flames rise from Grenfell Tower. Picture: AP Photo/Matt Dunham

“It’s the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen.

“The first I knew was the noise of sirens, helicopters and shouting. I saw it engulfed in flames.

“People have been bringing water, clothes, anything they’ve got to help, out to the cordon.

“I have seen people coming out in their bedclothes - it’s just very distressing.”

Emergency service responders near the fire that has engulfed the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. Picture: Rick Findler/PA Wire Emergency service responders near the fire that has engulfed the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. Picture: Rick Findler/PA Wire

Fire crews from north Kensington, Kensington, Hammersmith and Paddington and surrounding stations were at the scene with the fire burning from the second to the top floor.

The cause of the fire is not known at this stage, London Fire Brigade said.

Fabio Bebber wrote on Twitter: “More screams for help as the fire spreads to another side of the building.

“We can see how quick the fire spreads via the external panels. It’s unbearable hearing someone screaming for their lives at Grenfell tower.”

It is likely some victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in west London will not be identified police have said.  Picture: Rick Findler/PA Wire It is likely some victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in west London will not be identified police have said. Picture: Rick Findler/PA Wire

George Clarke, who presents the Channel 4 TV show Amazing Spaces, told Radio 5 Live: “I was in bed and heard ‘beep, beep, beep’ and thought, ‘I’ll get up and run downstairs as quickly as I could’.

“I thought it might be a car alarm outside and saw the glow through the windows.

“I’m getting covered in ash, that’s how bad it is. I’m 100 metres away and I’m absolutely covered in ash.

“It’s so heartbreaking, I’ve seen someone flashing their torches at the top level and they obviously can’t get out.

“The guys are doing an incredible job to try and get people out that building, but it’s truly awful.”

London Fire Brigade assistant commissioner Dan Daly said: “Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus are working extremely hard in very difficult conditions to tackle this fire.

“This is a large and very serious incident and we have deployed numerous resources and specialist appliances.”

London Ambulance said it sent a “number of resources” to the scene, including its Hazardous Area Response Team.

Stuart Crighton, London Ambulance Service assistant director of operations, said: “We have sent a number of resources to the scene including our hazardous area response team and over 20 ambulance crews.

“Our priority (is) to get people to safety and ensure they receive the medical help as quickly as possible.”

Local collections in Suffolk have also been delivered to London this week.

Police have urged anyone still concerned about a missing loved one to visit the reception area at the Westway Sports Centre, west London, or ring the casualty bureau on 0800 0961 233.

The Harvest Centre, home of Brandon Full Gospel Church, held its Christmas meal on Saturday evening and this year invited people who had made a difference in the community.

Snow-lovers in Suffolk and Essex took full advantage of today’s weather by getting outside to enjoy the white stuff despite plummeting temperatures.

A woman arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs has been released under investigation.

Kesgrave High School will be closed tomorrow after a major power failure.

A woman was raped in a car in Lowestoft yesterday in what police have described as a “despicable attack”.

Ipswich Town Hall will be 150 years old in January. John Norman looks at its story – one rarely dull.

Headteachers face an “impossible” task of deciding whether to close their school due to snow and fear looking “foolish” later in the day if forecasts prove to be inaccurate, education leaders say.

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