London: The death toll in a devastating fire in west London rose to 17 on Thursday, even as many people were still unaccounted for with the police saying there was little chance of finding any survivors from the smoldering building.
London Fire Brigade fire fighters worked through the night to try and account for whole families that are still missing in the huge fire at the Grenfell Tower on the Lancaster West Estate in Latimer Road.
The fire was reported at 01:16 am (local time) on Wednesday.
About 600 people were believed to have been inside the tower’s 120 flats, many of them asleep, when the blaze ripped through the building.
The police confirmed 17 deaths among the 600 residents thought to have lived in the tower but expect that toll to rise significantly as the building is searched.
Scotland Yard said the death toll of 17 is expected to rise further as the emergency services have lost hope of rescuing any more people alive from the building.
Nearly 78 people were injured, and 34 remain in hospitals across London – 18 of them in critical condition.
Volunteers and charities helped feed and shelter people who could not return to their homes overnight.
Gurdwaras, mosques and churches opened their doors to the people rendered homeless, which included hundreds from nearby housing blocks that were evacuated as a precautionary measure.
Bhupinder Singh, one British Sikh volunteer handling donations, 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 live in England and how good it is to be a Londoner.” Questions have been raised about why the fire appeared to spread so quickly and engulf the entire building instead of being contained within a few flats.