LONDON – Six people were confirmed dead in a massive fire that raced through a high-rise apartment building in west London early on Wednesday. According to the London Ambulance Service, 74 people are being treated, with 20 in critical condition.
Flames shot from windows all the way up the side of the 24-story Grenfell Tower in North Kensington as firefighters battled the blaze, and a plume of smoke could be seen for several kilometres.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known. Residents said it appeared to start in an apartment on a lower floor and spread upward quickly.
British Prime Minister Theresa May she was deeply saddened by the loss of life in Grenfell Tower fire tragedy.
“The Prime Minister is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life in the Grenfell Tower and is being kept constantly updated on the situation,” a spokesman said.
Ms. May has asked for a cross-government meeting, chaired by police and fire minister Nick Hurd, to coordinate the response and make sure the government is ready to help emergency services and local authorities, he added.
Babies dropped from tower
Two eyewitnesses told the Press Association news agency they saw children dropped by their parents into the arms of people on the ground.
One said a baby was dropped from the ninth or 10th floor, another that she saw a five-year-old boy dropped from a fifth or sixth floor window.
This incident is likely to feed into the frenzied and heavily emotionally charged political debate going on in Britain today, bringing to the fore many issues – from the management (and fire safety regulations) of tower blocks, to issues around inequality and affordable housing in central London.
While the fire brigade has said it’s too early to say anything about the cause of the fire that has led to a number of casualties, attention has begun to focus on the state of the building, which had recently been refurbished, to a new exterior cladding system to improve insulation and its appearance.