London Fire: Death Toll Rises To 17, But “No More Survivors”

[Grenfell Tower as of June 14th | Photo: Natalie Oxford/AFP/Getty]
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As the London fire dwindles down, it has taken 17 lives thus far. This was fortunate for local, fire departments, as they didn’t anticipate more lives crawling from the charred wreckage that is north Kensington’s Grenfell Tower. City authorities are worried there are probably more fatalities.

Currently, specially trained dogs are being used to locate more survivors possibly buried alive. In the midst of it all, the Queen Elizabeth II declared her “thoughts and prayers” go out to all the families involved.

Friends and loved ones have been eager to learn of their people who’ve yet to be found. In the meantime, over 30 have been hospitalized—17 in critical condition.

[The lower levels of Grenfell Tower, which are still burning. | Source: BBC News]
Upon the ongoing confusion as to the cause, Prime Minister Theresa May came on the scene and ensured a deep search into the matter. When speaking to north Kensington officials while assessing damage, Labor Leader Jeremy Corbyn said, “The truth has to come out.”

It was June 14th when firefighters arrived at the 24-floor residential building—late at night while occupants were asleep but waking to an inferno. Neighbors and on-the-ground screams woke others as many left the premises. Sixty-five people have been rescued, but the smoky fire prevented many from leaving their domains.

As of early Thursday morning, London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton’s fire rescuers found a “number of people, but we know there will be more.” Due to Grenfell being so large, Cotton added it might be weeks before they round up everyone.

In an interview, Met Police Commander Stuart Cindy felt it “wrong and incredibly distressing” to estimate the amount of people who’ve yet to be found. “I know one person was reported 46 times to the casualty bureau,” Cindy pontificated.

[Prime Minister May assessing the damage with fire fighters. | Photo: PA]
While rescuers did a sweep through the tower, the flames, Commander Cotton said the smoke and falling rubbish prevented them from the “difficult and painstaking” task of really looking into the remains.

[Grenfell Tower’s exterior was highly flammable. | Photo: PA]
[All of the UK have donated supplies in an effort to help victims. | Photo: Getty Images]
So rescuers can safely look for more people, they’re planning to build short-term structures within the tower.

After an entire day of managing the flames, rescuers and authorities are still lost on what started it all. Upon the fire’s first morning, billowing smoke still engulfed Grenfell, however, as Thursday afternoon hit, another blaze came to the lower levels. Now-homeless residents slept in pop-up rescue camps. Others wrote supportive words on a nearby wall.

This inspired London-native Adele and UK-born Rita Ora to come and show support. Ora herself assisted with distributing donations to those in need.

Both English and Arabic notes and pictures were seen at the site—as well as messages expressing contempt for what happened. People are demanding retribution as safety seemingly went out the door on this incident.

According to Kensington and Chelsea council, 44 families were given emergency housing at this time. From the donations, homeless residents were grateful for the food, clothes and blankets. There’ve been so many donations, volunteers actually had to decline much of them! Volunteer Bhupinder Sing said, “It is times like this that the best of our community comes out. This is where you find out how good it is to be a Londoner.”

[London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton (R) | Source: BBC News]
Commissioner Dany Cotton elaborated on the temporary reinforcement that will enable her team to better locate more who could still be under the debris. More, she said they will be using highly trained dogs that can move about faster and can sniff out any survivors.

Londoners are growing impatient as to what ignited the flames and why grew to an almost-uncontrollable rate—to the point of it covering Grenfell Tower’s entirety. There has been much talk of the building’s exterior being the main cause. BBC Newsnight’s Chris Cook explained the exterior was applied back in 2015 and had a polyethylene (plastic) core rather than appropriately-fire-retardant material. Cook added that comparable material has been used for external cladding for towers in France, the UAE and Australia—all suffered fires.

As a result of Grenfell’s fate, London officials will be implementing safety inspection on buildings having the same cladding. Despite the fire, Rydon, the firm that applied the cladding, claimed their work adhered to “all fire regulations”—this was revised when they made a second statement.

More, Housing Committee London Assembly Chairwoman Sian Berry said it was discovered fire-risk inspections were “less rigorous” upon accountability leaving fire experts and landing on building owners.

[Source: Studio E Architects and BBC News]
There’s been an accumulation of worry in terms of faulty alarms and buildings with no sprinklers.

Tall Buildings Fire Safety Network’s Russ Timpson said there are structures being built without proper, extinguishing mechanisms—he anticipates this to no longer be a practice in light of Grenfell. Timpson continued to explain that international associates are “staggered” to learn of UK towers having only one staircase.

National Fire Chiefs Council Chairman Roy Wilsher speculated the possibility of the flames infecting only the outside first, which would not have set off sprinklers (if Grenfell had them). Wilsher added that these buildings are designed and operated to where a fire should be limited to the unit of origin, but “clearly something’s gone wrong in this case.”

[Twelve-year-old Jessica Urbano Ramirez has apparently lost her family in the chaos. | Photo: ANA OSPINA]

[Video: courtesy of CNN via NateDogg]

Amid the chaos, social media’s running rampant with friends and loved ones demanding news of their families’ whereabouts—e.g., 22nd-floor-residents 12-year-old Jessica Urbano Ramirez and 66-year-old grandfather Tony Disson. Security-guard Mo Tucco has yet to be found too—he was simply visiting friends who were residents. Seventeenth-floor resident Husna Begum and four relatives haven’t been seen since two hours into the fire.

Labor MP David Lammy’s is using due process to obtain knowledge on a friend, Khadija Saye—her mother, Mary Mendy, too.

Grenfell Tower friends and loved ones are welcome to call 0800 0961 233 for information and/or updates on their people.

More instances are popping up from bystanders and those who experienced the flames directly. A nearby neighbor witnessed victims pounding on their windows and shouting for help. He’s a personal friend of a five-child family—yet to be found. “There are so many children [who] are unaccounted for. My daughter’s best friend has gone,” he explained in a BBC interview.

[Video: courtesy of Humraz Khan via BBC India]

Onlookers actually saw someone toss a baby out a window; people used bed-sheet “ropes” to crawl out of and slide down Grenfell while it lit up London like a torch from hell.

Jody Martin said, “I was yelling at everyone to get down, and they were saying, ‘We can’t leave our apartments; the smoke is too bad on the corridors.’”

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