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Anger mounts over London tower blaze

Anger mounts over London tower blaze

UNITED KINGDOM: Anger mounted in London on Wednesday over a devastating tower block blaze which killed at least 17 people, as police said some of the victims were left unrecognisable by the blaze.


Friday 16 June 2017, 09:28AM

The remains of Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block in west London, pictured yesterday (June 15), the day after it was gutted by fire. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP

The remains of Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block in west London, pictured yesterday (June 15), the day after it was gutted by fire. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP

Locals yelled questions at Mayor Sadiq Khan as he walked through the west London neighbourhood where the 24-storey Grenfell Tower went up in flames early on Wednesday (June 14) .

“How many children died? What are you going to do about it?” a boy asked Khan, as the mayor tried to stop tensions rising further.

“You can see the anger for the community, justifiably so,” he said.

“Many people have been saying for some time now, their concerns about the housing we’re talking about now, but also other tower blocks around London.”

Grenfell Tower was home to around 600 people and whole families remain missing after the fire, which forced residents to flee through black smoke down the single stairwell, jump out of windows or even drop their children to safety.

Of the 17 victims found by emergency services so far, six were outside the tower, while it has not yet been deemed safe enough to recover the 11 bodies found inside.

“They are simply not recognisable because of the fire,” Fiona McCormack, from the Metropolitan Police’s identification team, said of the victims found inside Grenfell Tower.

One of the victims was named as Mohammed Alhajali, a 23-year-old Syrian refugee, who came to Britain in 2014 with his brother.

“Mohammed undertook a dangerous journey to flee war and death in Syria, only to meet it here in the UK, in his own home,” the Syrian Solidarity Campaign said in a statement.

As the fire continued to burn more than 36 hours after the blaze started, police commander Stuart Cundy said he did not expect to find any survivors.

“There is a risk we may not be able to identify everybody. The process will be very long. We’re talking weeks, we’re talking months,” he said.

Questions are growing about how the flames spread so quickly, engulfing the tower’s 120 apartments in what fire chiefs said was an unprecedented blaze.

The focus of criticism centres on the cladding fitted to external walls on the 1970s concrete block as part of a £8.7 million (B37.8mn) refit completed last year.

According to the BBC, the cladding had a plastic core and was similar to that used by high-rise buildings in France, the United Arab Emirates and Australia, which had also suffered fires that spread.

Rydon, the firm responsible for the refit, said the project “met all required building regulations”.

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Harley Facades, which fitted the panels, told the BBC: “At this time, we are not aware of any link between the fire and the exterior cladding to the tower.”

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said they still did not know the cause of the fire, where it started or why it spread in such a way.

Earlier yesterday, British Prime Minister Theresa May ordered a public inquiry, an official review of action by public institutions.

In addition to debate over the cladding, questions have also been raised over why there was no sprinkler system in the Grenfell Tower which could have helped stop the fire spreading, or any central smoke alarm system that would have woken sleeping residents.

Official fire service advice for residents to stay in their homes and use towels to block out smoke, while awaiting help, has also come under scrutiny.

Local lawmaker Emma Dent Coad said grieving families had “lost their loved ones and their communities have been shaken to the core. They need answers”.

Fellow London MP Harriet Harman urged politicians to pursue the inquiry without delay, warning Fire Minister Nick Hurd if they didn’t act “you and all of us are culpable”.

Grenfell Tower is part of a social housing estate in north Kensington, just streets away from some of the most expensive homes in the world in Notting Hill.

Residents have said their safety concerns were ignored, arguing their fears would have been addressed before the tragedy had they lived in a more upmarket area of London.

“If this happened somewhere near Knightsbridge this would have been resolved. It wouldn’t have been an issue,” said Nana Akuffo, 46, a chef volunteering at a local community centre.

David Collins, former chairman of the Grenfell Tower Residents’ Association, said the building’s management had failed to listen to residents’ calls for improvements on fire safety.

“This is a multi-ethnic, multicultural, diverse community that just didn’t get served by the people representing them,” Collins said.

The government yesterday set up an emergency fund to allow the local authorities to deal with the disaster.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds have already been raised online for the victims, while local community centres were inundated by donations of clothes and food.

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Kurt | 20 June 2017 - 13:13:17

But what materials are used for insulation in Thailand?
No Thai Government authority has spoken yet about it!
Thai building insulation, so far, is saying nothing about it's fireproof!

I commented earlier that the gladding used in London was not allowed to use in USA.
Later I learned it also is not allowed to be used all over Europe, including UK ( according a UK Minister)

Christy Sweet | 20 June 2017 - 10:42:50

Stegee, The need of cooling  in the sub tropics certainly has buildings insulated.

stegee | 19 June 2017 - 21:35:13

it seems highly unlikely that a bkk high rise would have insulative cladding fitted onto it... i don't think it's called for in a sub tropical climate...

Rorri | 19 June 2017 - 18:21:13

Eagle, reading your comment almost bought a tear to my eyes, laughing so much.
Neocolonialism: The use of economic, political, cultural, or other pressures to control or influence other countries, especially former dependencies.
Hardly refers to any one person.
Omniscient: knowing everything... yes very much like yourself, and your "bed" mate Jor12. 
As for "arrogant, I  need...

Eagle | 19 June 2017 - 18:01:03

Kurt,inferiority complex?This is something regarding people like you.I dont cry all day about unfair{as you call it}treatment of foreigners.And dont use the word respect,as you are completely lacking it.Seen here every day.

@Andy.Why should i go and live in North Korea?Contrary to those frustrated commentators here who complain all day,i like to live here.So it is a stupid suggestion.And i dont...

Andy | 19 June 2017 - 17:20:59

@Eagle. Have you ever heard of the concept of free speech?
You don't have to read the comments here but you do and now by your comment you show yourself a supporter of totalitarianism. I suggest you go and live in North Korea. You might also want to read up on some history of where totalitarianism leads and refresh yourself of the famous quote from Martin Niemoller.   

Kurt | 19 June 2017 - 16:58:06

Perhaps people who only react here on comments, much of the time at the edge of being insultive to other readers, being obsessed,  talking about arrogance, omniscience and neocolonialism are suffering a kind of inferiority complex?
Just a thought.
For sure they not respect other peoples thinking/visions in their limited mind setting and their undemocratic wishes.
Paper dictators. Pity.

Eagle | 19 June 2017 - 15:39:42

@swerv,already thinking about it.This site has become a gathering place for arrogant,omniscient neocolonialists now.Kindly supported by the PN itself.Hopefully soon some officials will take note of the comments here and shut down this forum.

swerv | 19 June 2017 - 13:20:17

Eagle: Give up, no point trying to reason with Kurt it is a waste of time which is why i hardly ever post anymore. The man must sit at his computer all day refreshing the pages so that he can air his experience in everything in an unintelligible babble.

Eagle | 18 June 2017 - 15:10:16

Lung Kurt,i gave you a simple answer,but even that you did not understand.It is hopeless.

Kurt | 17 June 2017 - 11:11:38

Silly reaction of khun Eagle, to react with...' it could happen everywhere in the world'...
Did this fire not happen elsewhere in the world, in London?

The questions was about Bangkok and Pattaya high rise.
Not even a high rise is needed, seen the nightclub fire shortly ago in a Pattaya night club during day time.

Everywhere in Thailand  we can see non fireproof claddings, speciall...

Eagle | 16 June 2017 - 16:07:35

Kurt,it could happen everywhere in the world.Either by accident or intended.Same with discos.Happened already in many countries.And now?

Kurt | 16 June 2017 - 11:02:46

Can this happen too in Bangkok's high rise buildings?
The thai disco disasters are 'famous'. All because no fire prevention regulations + inspections.
How about fire prevention regulations + inspections in high rise buildings in Bangkok , Pattaya, etc. ?

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