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London Inferno Death Toll Rises, As Desperate Search Continues For Dozens Missing

Witness accounts from horror scene

London Inferno Death Toll Rises, As Desperate Search Continues For Dozens Missing

Pic: Getty


London police have confirmed the death toll from the Grenfell Tower inferno has risen to 12, while 78 other people are being treated in hospital, 18 are in critical care.

That number is expected to rise as rescuers desperately search for survivors, up to 600 people were thought to have been inside the 24-storey apartment block in west London when it went up in flames around 1am Wednesday morning, local time.

More than 200 firefighters have spent the past 24 hours trying to bring one of the country's most ferocious fires under control, with residents saying that 'nobody on the top three floors have survived'.

The blaze was reportedly sparked by an 'exploding fridge' on the second floor.

One resident of the newly refurbished tower who managed to make it out alive, said they only realised the horrific fire was happening below them when they heard dozens of fire engines in the distance.

"There was no fire alarms anywhere, because we don't have an integrated fire alarm system, it's just everyone's house for itself, but I could smell the smoke."

"I starting looking down the window from the 17th floor and I see the fire blazing! [and] coming up really fast because of the cladding, the cladding was flammable and it just caught up like a matchstick."





Other witnesses say residents were screaming for help from upper-floors, some were throwing young children out of the building - from as high as the 15th floor - to get them to safety.

"I just saw people literally surviving, waiting for the fire to take them, there was nothing else they could do, they were just waiting to die," one witness said.

"They were taking turns taking air from the windows, one person had a light in their phone so you know they were there, we were all like 'look, can you see that person? they're waving!', and then the fire just took the building."

One woman lost two of her six children as she tried to escape from the block, one witness said.

"I spoke to a lady that lives on the 21st floor. She has got six kids. She left with all six of them. When she got downstairs there was only four of them with her. She is now breaking her heart," Michael Paramasivan, a block resident, told BBC radio.

It is a race against time now for emergency crews, there is believed to be dozens still trapped in the wreckage with fears the building could soon collapse. 

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Prime Minister Theresa May has promised a "proper investigation" into the fire, saying that if any lessons are to be learned they will be and "action will be taken".

The tower had undergone a $A14.6 million exterior refurbishment just 13 months ago, which included new external cladding. A local council has admitted it received a number of complaints about the refurbishment, as an action group said its warnings about safety concerns fell on "deaf ears".

Grenfell Action Group said in a blog post in November "only a catastrophic event" would expose the issues.

Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation have been in charge of the tower's management since 1996 after the tenants and leaseholders voted to manage their own homes.

"It is too early to speculate what caused the fire and contributed to its spread. We will co-operate fully with all the relevant authorities in order to ascertain the cause of this tragedy," the organisation said in a statement on its website.

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