By 17:00 BST Wednesday, 12 people have been confirmed killed in a huge fire that has engulfed Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey residential block near Notting Hill in west London, and 18 people are in critical care after 79 injured were taken to hospital. Police say the death toll is expected to rise further as firefighters continue to search through the still smouldering tower block.
The fire broke out at 00:54 BST, when up to 600 people are believed to have been inside the building. Eyewitnesses said that they saw lights flicking on and off at the top of the block and trapped residents coming to their windows screaming for help as the blaze rapidly ripped up the building. A baby was seen dropped by its parents from the 9th or 10th floor, and a man on the ground ran forward catching the baby successfully.
According to London ambulance service, the firefighters were called at 01:29 BST and 20 crews rushed to the scene. Around 200 firefighters in 40 engines arrived within six minutes, along with a range of specialist vehicles, including 14 fire rescue vehicles.
While the cause of this appalling tragedy is not known, Prime Minister Theresa May said, “Once the scene is secure, once the recovery is complete, then an investigation will take place into the cause of the fire and if there are any lessons to be learned they will be.” She also stressed that the focus at this stage should be on ensuring smooth progress of the rescue efforts and prompt support to all those who had suffered as a result of this tragedy.
Anyone concerned about loved ones can call the emergency number set up by the police: 0800 0961 233.