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79 people presumed dead in London tower block fire

79 people are either dead or missing presumed dead after the fire at Grenfell Tower, police have said

19 June 2017, 12:33pm
The inside of the Grenfell Tower in west London on June 16, 2017 after a fire engulfed the 24-storey building
The inside of the Grenfell Tower in west London on June 16, 2017 after a fire engulfed the 24-storey building
The death toll from the Grenfell Tower fire has risen to 79, with metropolitan police commander Stuart Cundy saying five people had been formally identified and 74 were missing, presumed dead.

He added that the figure may still change as the search and recovery operation was ongoing, but not as significantly as it has in recent days.

Police had earlier put the toll at 58 presumed dead.

Fire swept through the 24-storey block in North Kensington, west London, shortly before 1:00am on 13 June.

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

Of those who were injured, 18 people remain in hospital, with nine in critical care.

Cundy said his priority was to identify the people who died in the building and to remove them as quickly as possible. But he warned that not everyone would be identifiable and the operation would take "many, many weeks".

A minute's silence was held at 11:00am across the UK to remember the victims.

Earlier, police also released new images from inside the 24-storey building to show the scale of the challenge they face.

The British government has sent in a team of civil servants to help with the relief effort.

As anger continued in the wake of the disaster, described by London mayor Sadiq Khan as a “preventable accident”, the government announced on Sunday that those left homeless will be given at least £5,500 from an emergency fund.

Residents will be given £500 in cash followed by a bank payment for the rest from Monday, with the money coming from the £5 million fund announced by Theresa May on Friday.