The death toll from the blaze at London’s Grenfell Tower, which has now risen to 17, is expected to climb further, police said, and the fire service said there was no hope of finding more people who escaped Wednesday’s fire that engulfed the 24-story apartment building.
Thirty-seven people are still in hospital, 17 of them in critical condition, Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan Police said. The Fire Brigade said it was using rescue dogs to “help identify anything around the building that may help confirm the identify those still inside.”
The cause of the fire, which took 24 hours to control, is not known, but it began in the early hours of Wednesday morning—the Fire Brigade said it received first reports at 12:54 a.m. Sixty-five adults and children were rescued. Several people are still missing. The rising death toll can, in part, be attributed to the fact most people inside were still sleeping. The size of the building—120 apartment over 24 floors—means the recovery process is expected to take several more days. Smoke continued to emanate from the remains of the building Thursday, and flames could be seen on at least one lower floor.
Prime Minister Theresa May, who visited the scene of the blaze, pledged to conduct a “proper investigation.” Residents have long complained about unsafe conditions. As I wrote Wednesday, a residents’ group, Grenfell Action Group, had warned as recently as last year “that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, [the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Office] and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders.”