LONDON: It will be “many months” before authorities will be able to give a final death toll for the London tower block blaze, police said on Wednesday while stressing the enormity of the task.
“We are many months from being able to provide the number of people who accurately represents the loss of life at Grenfell Tower,” detective Fiona McCormack told journalists. “We believe around 80 people to be dead or sadly missing and I must presume that they are dead,” she said.
The Guardian newspaper said resident Sajad Jamalvatan had compiled a list which suggested the true figure could be above 120.
Prime Minister Theresa May told parliament on Wednesday that it was her understanding that “this particular cladding was not compliant with building regulations”. All 120 high-rises tested so far have failed the ongoing safety checks, the prime minister told parliament.
The fire broke out in a fridge freezer but spread rapidly, engulfing the entire tower block and police said aluminum tiles and insulation which made up exterior cladding had failed fire safety tests.
May told parliament that cladding on 120 other tower blocks has flunked tests, showing there was a wider fire safety issue.
“As we have seen from the number of buildings where the cladding has failed the combustibility test this is a much wider issue,” she said.
“It’s an issue that has been continuing for many years, for decades, in terms of cladding being put up in buildings. There are real questions as to how this has happened, why it’s happened and how we can ensure that it doesn’t happen in the future.”