London Fire Kills Approximately Fifty-Eight

Posted: June 22, 2017 in Uncategorized
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Tuesday June 20th, 2017 in

 

Approximately 58 people died (30 confirmed) in a towering inferno as one of London’s high-rise public housing blocks was gutted by fire. Theresa May, Britain’s prime minister, faced a barrage of criticism for the government’s initial response to the tragedy at Grenfell Tower.

May said that the government has begun distributing funds from a $6.4 million (USD) emergency fund created to assist victims of the blaze, and housing officials are conducting safety checks of other public high-rise towers in London. “I have heard the concerns and I have ordered immediate action across the board to help victims’ relatives and the survivors,” May said.

Protesters in London are demanding to know why long-standing fire safety concerns raised by a tenants’ group about the 24 story building, tucked in the city’s ritzy North Kensington neighborhood, had not been addressed. They also expressed anger that the prime minister did not meet with survivors or victims of the fire when she initially visited the neighborhood following the tragedy.

Commander Stuart Cundy, a spokesman for London’s Metropolitan Police, also said there may have been people in the tower that police are not aware of, which could add to the death toll. “The figure of 58 are those who are missing and that we have to presume are dead,” said Cundy. “It might be that some of those are safe and well but for whatever reason have not reached (out) to let us know. Cundy added that it will take weeks or longer to recover and identify all the dead in the housing block that was devastated. Police said 19 injured in the fire remain hospitalized, including 10 who were in critical condition.

“My heart goes out to those affected,” Cundy said. “As soon as we can, we will locate and recover loved ones.” Cundy said authorities plan to release video and photographs from inside the badly-charred building.

Investigators are trying to figure out why the fire spread so quickly to the top floors especially since the apartment complex underwent a $13 million refurbishment last year that included new thermal cladding to the exterior.

The Grenfell Action Group, the tenants’ organization, had expressed concerns for years about the testing and maintenance of firefighting equipment and blocked emergency access to the site. “All our warnings fell on deaf ears and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable,” the group said after the fire broke out, according to the Associated Press. In a blog post written last year, the Grenfell Action Group warned of “dangerous living conditions” in the tower. “It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO.”

KCTMO, the Kensington and Chelsea Management Organization, has managed the building on behalf of local public authorities who own it. The management organization said it was aware of the complaints made by residents, but that it was “too early to speculate what caused the fire and contributed to its spread.”
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip observed a moment of silence to honor the victims. They paid their respects before the start of the annual Trooping the Color procession that marks the observance of the queen’s birthday. The queen said in a statement that she was “profoundly struck by the immediate inclination of people throughout the country to offer comfort and support to those in desperate need.”

“Put to the test, the United Kingdom has been resolute in the face of adversity,” she added. “United in our sadness, we are equally determined, without fear or favor, to support all those rebuilding lives so horribly affected by injury and loss.”

“The conditions prevailing in society, and especially in the great cities of the nations, proclaim in thunder tones that the hour of God’s judgment is come and that the end of all things earthly is at hand. We are standing on the threshold of the crisis of the ages. In quick succession the judgments of God will follow one another—fire, and flood, and earthquake, with war and bloodshed. We are not to be surprised at this time by events both great and decisive; for the angel of mercy cannot remain much longer to shelter the impenitent.” Prophets and Kings, page 278.

 

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