12 dead in massive fire at London residential tower
A huge blaze on Wednesday engulfed a 24-storey residential tower block in west London housing over 100 families, killing at least 12 people and injuring 74 others, with police suspecting the death toll could rise further.
The fire at Grenfell Tower on the Lancaster West Estate in Latimer Road was reported at 01:16 local time. About 600 people were believed to have been inside the tower's 120 flats when the blaze ripped through the building.
The Metropolitan Police, which previously had put the number of fatalities at six, now raised the death toll to 12.
Commander Stuart Cundy, of the Metropolitan Police earlier said the recovery operation would be complex "over a number of days."
He said it was likely to be some time before police could identify the victims, and it was too early to speculate on the cause of the fire.
The fire is thought to have started because of a faulty refrigerator on the 3rd or 4th floor of the building soon after midnight and destroyed flat after flat.
By noon, the building looked to be just smoking ruins but the fire again took hold, and cladding began to fall to the ground.
Eyewitnesses described people trapped in the burning tower, in north Kensington, screaming for help and yelling for their children to be saved.
Firefighters rescued many people and are still trying to put the fire out in the 24-storey block 12 hours on.
Police say there may still be people in the building who are unaccounted for.
Eyewitnesses said they saw lights - thought to be mobile phones or torches - flashing at the top of the block of flats, and trapped residents coming to their windows - some holding children.
It is understood that "several hundred" people would have been in the block when the fire broke out shortly after midnight, most of them sleeping.
"This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale," London Fire Brigade chief Dany Cotton told reporters.