17 dead, public investigation sought in London tower fire

World Today

More grief and anger in London over a massive apartment fire. The death toll stands at 17, but that could greatly increase, as rescue officials said they’re not expecting to find any more survivors.

The British Prime Minister is now asking for a public investigation. Around 500 people were asleep when the fire ripped through after midnight on Monday.

CGTN’s Richard Bestic reports from London.

The charred remains of the burned out building stand blackened alongside near identical neighboring tower blocks.

A critical difference, part of a $13 million refurbishment at Grenfell Tower last year included extra insulation under new panels on the building’s exterior. Critics say that cladding could be to blame for turning the fire into a lethal inferno.

British Prime Minister Theresa May wants to find out and has asked for a public inquiry.

“When I spoke to the emergency services, they told me that the way this fire progressed, how it took hold of this building was rapid, it was ferocious and it was unexpected,” May said.

London’s fire chief said it’s not expected there’ll be any more survivors, raising grim questions about the final death toll.

“We are unaware of how many people are in the building,” Dany Cotton, Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade said. “As you can appreciate, it’s a very large building with a large number of people in there.”

The inquiries that follow this mass tragedy will be long, protracted and with political implications at the highest level.

For now though, people in London are thinking more of those who lost their lives. For survivors made homeless by the fire, there’s help at hand from across West London’s diverse community.

“So when a disaster like this happens, guess what? Automatically everybody turns up because we are one family,” Phupinder Singh, a volunteer said.

Others find fallout from the tragedy deeply personal, as relatives and friends add their messages to a wall of condolences. For some, the grief is too much to bear.

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