Death toll for London fire rises to 79, may change

LONDON • The toll of people dead, or those missing and presumed dead following a devastating blaze in a London tower block has risen to 79, amid the police warning that the figure may change. The country had held a minute's silence for the victims.

Police had earlier put the toll at 58 presumed dead.

"I believe there may be people who were in Grenfell Tower that people may not know were missing and may not have realised they were in there on the night.

"Equally, there may be people who thankfully may have managed to escape the fire and for whatever reason have not let their family or friends or police know," police commander Stuart Cundy told reporters yesterday.

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He said only five people had been formally identified so far, after officers earlier warned that some may never be identified due to the condition of the remains.

Mr Cundy said the search-and-recovery operation was ongoing in the burnt-out, 24-storey tower.

"This is an incredibly distressing time for families and they have my commitment that we will do this as quickly as we possibly can," he said.

Mr Cundy also promised an "exhaustive" criminal investigation into the fire that would also look at a major refurbishment of the building completed last year.

"We will go where the evidence may take us" and do everything possible "to ensure that those responsible will be brought to justice", he said.

"If I identify... an issue that is a risk to public safety, we will be sharing that immediately with the relevant authorities," he added.

The terms of reference for a public inquiry into a fire at a London tower block that killed 79 people are being drafted and Prime Minister Theresa May knows people want answers quickly on the disaster, her spokesman said yesterday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2017, with the headline 'Death toll for London fire rises to 79, may change'. Print Edition | Subscribe