79 now believed to have died in London high-rise fire
LONDON (AP) — London police said 79 people are now believed to have died in the fire that swept through a high-rise apartment building last week, making it the deadliest blaze in recent British history.
Authorities increased the count Monday after spending the weekend working with families to identify all those who are missing and believed to have died inside the 24-story Grenfell Tower, as well as the five victims that have been formally identified, Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy told reporters.
Flames engulfed the building in less than an hour early on June 14, trapping many residents before firefighters could reach them.
London police late Sunday released photographs of the devastation inside the 120-unit building to show the public and frustrated family members why the search for victims is taking so long. The three photos show different views inside the charred, ruined wreck. The search and recovery operation is likely to take many weeks and some victims may never be identified because of the intensity of the fire, Cundy said.
“Sadly, for many families, they have lost more than one family member, and my heart truly goes out to them,” he said. “This is an incredibly distressing time for all of them. I’ve said before one of my absolute priorities is to identify people as quick as we can, to recover them from Grenfell Tower.”
The Grenfell Tower disaster is now the deadliest fire in mainland Britain since at least the turn of the last century.
It ranks above the fire at Bradford City Stadium on May 11, 1985, when 56 people died as flames swept through the wooden stands during a soccer game, according to the Emergency Events Database at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. The group compiles natural and man-made disasters around the world from 1900 to the present.