Theresa May has ordered a full public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire that has left at least 17 people dead, amid fears the death toll will rise above 100.
After visiting teams at the scene of the blaze in west London, the Prime Minister said the move was needed to ensure “this terrible tragedy is properly investigated”.
Her announcement came amid calls for corporate manslaughter charges to be brought following the disaster and as Scotland Yard confirmed it is investigating the cause of the blaze.
Watch: Facebook live video from inside blazing tower
As the first pictures taken inside a gutted apartment in the 24-storey tower block emerged, specialist urban search and rescue teams are seeking to make the building safe to allow firefighters and police to carry out investigations.
Search dogs will also be used to help locate the missing in the wreckage following the devastating blaze early on Wednesday. Emergency services are not expecting to find anyone alive.
Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said six victims have so far been provisionally identified, but “there is a risk that sadly we may not be able to identify everybody” due to the extent of the damage.
While refusing to speculate on whether the total number dead would reach triple figures, he said: “From a personal perspective, I really hope it isn’t, for those of us that have been down there, it’s pretty emotional, so I hope it is not triple figures, but I can’t be drawn on the numbers.”
Hundreds of the roughly 500 residents in the block remain unaccounted for including whole families. Seventeen people remain critically ill in hospital.
Fears have been raised that green energy concerns were put before safety as it emerged that cladding used to make the building more efficient could have accelerated the fire, which is thought to have been started by a faulty fridge.
Residents’ groups have claimed they raised concerns about the safety of the building, which had been recently refurbished, while those who escaped complained their fire alarms had not been set off by the blaze.
Kensington and Chelsea Council admitted it had received complaints over the works, after a residents’ action group said its warnings about safety had fallen on “deaf ears”.
Meanwhile, more than £1 million has been raised to help those affected by the blaze, while volunteers and charities helped feed and shelter people who could not return to their homes overnight.
A wall of condolence was put up near the scene with photographs showing dozens of messages left for loved ones. Stay with us for the latest updates.
Refurbishment company welcomes announcement of public inquiry
The construction firm behind a partial refurbishment at Grenfell Tower last year has welcomed the announcement of a public inquiry – and praised 999 teams dealing with the inferno’s aftermath.
East Sussex-based Rydon said it had offered its “full help and support” to investigators probing the cause of the fire that has claimed at least 17 lives.
The company restated that the partial refurbishment it completed last summer met all required building regulations, as well as fire regulation and health and safety standards.
A line in the firm’s first statement, which said the work had met fire regulation and health and safety standards, was later removed in a second public notice issued on Wednesday evening.
The £8.6 million regeneration project, which saw new cladding and windows installed at Grenfell, was completed for Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation on behalf of the council. Rydon’s latest statement said:
“We welcome the announcement of the public inquiry into the tragic incident at Grenfell Tower. In the immediate term, we have offered our full help and support to the relevant authorities, who are investigating the causes.
“We would also like to praise the tireless efforts and bravery of the emergency services who continue to deal with this tragic incident.
“Rydon Maintenance Limited completed a partial refurbishment of the building in the summer of 2016 for KCTMO (Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation) on behalf of the council, which met all required building regulations – as well as fire regulation and health and safety standards – and handover took place when the completion notice was issued by Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea building control.”
Sadiq Khan heckled during visit to Grenfell Tower
Sadiq Khan has been heckled by residents as he visited the scene of the Grenfell Tower blaze this afternoon.
Surrounded by around 30 police officers, the Mayor of London was repeatedly interrupted by people saying that “someone needs to be held accountable” as he tried to speak.
“I share their anger and their demands for answers,” he later said. “People are frustrated. It is very important that a public inquiry is conducted as quickly as possible to get to the bottom of what’s happened here.”
DNA and dental records to be used to identify victims
Martin Evans, the Telegraph’s Crime Correspondent, has more from the briefing by Commander Cundy:
- Police admitted that some of the victims might never be identified because of the extent of the damage.
- They will use DNA and dental records, but still might not be able to confirm all those from overseas.
- Police officers who have been working on the disaster are being offered counselling.
Mr Cundy’s voice at one stage cracked as he spoke to reporters about the emotional toll the disaster had taken on him.
While refusing to speculate on whether the total number dead would reach triple figures, he said: “From a personal perspective, I really hope it isn’t, for those of us that have been down there, it’s pretty emotional, so I hope it is not triple figures, but I can’t be drawn on the numbers.”
‘I hope it is not inevitable that the death toll rises into triple figures’
Speaking at a briefing, Commander Cundy said that of the 17 people confirmed dead, 11 remain inside the tower block but cannot be removed and six have been recovered from outside.
He said: “I hope it is not inevitable that the death toll rises into triple figures.”
Commander Cundy also confirmed there is an investigation into the cause of the fire and that, if there have been criminal acts, they will charge people.
Man ‘taken away by police’ in disturbance during visit by Mayor of London
As tensions run high near the scene of the Grenfell Tower blaze, a man has been taken away by police following a disturbance during a visit by Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, according to Sky News. It is unclear if the man was in the same area as Mr Khan, who was due to speak to reporters at 3.30pm in an address that has since been delayed.
‘We fear they have all been wiped out’: Parents and three children who lived on 21st floor
Relatives of a family of five fear they were all killed in the blaze after being stuck on the 21st floor.
Abdul Aziz el-Wahabi, 52, his wife Faouzia el-Wahabi, 42, and their three children, Yasin, 21, Nur Huda, 15, and Mehdi, eight, have not been heard from and their family appears to have died after being told to stay in their house by the fire brigade.
A family member told the Evening Standard: “We fear they have all been wiped out.” Click here to read more.
‘He told me a lot of smoke was rising up…’: ‘No grounds for hope’ for Italian architects who lived on 23rd floor
Two Italians are missing in the disaster – Marco Gottardi and his girlfriend Gloria Trevisan, both architects from the Veneto region of northern Italy, reports Nick Squires in Rome.
The 26-year-olds lived in a flat on the 23rd floor and both spoke to their parents as the fire took hold of the apartment block.
“There’s a lot of smoke but don’t worry, we’re waiting for the rescuers. We opened the front door but there was too much smoke to be able to leave. The lifts are blocked,” Mr Gottardi told his father, Giannino, at around 2am UK time.
Two Italians are missing in the disaster – Marco Gottardi and his girlfriend Gloria Trevisan, both architects from the Veneto region of northern Italy.
Giannino Gottardi told the Italian press: “In the first call they told us to be calm, that everything was under control.
“But in the second call – and I cannot get this out of my head – he told me that there was smoke, that a lot of smoke was rising up. There’s nothing more we can do than wait for a miracle.”
The couple graduated together last year from an architecture institute and came to London, like hundreds of thousands of young Italians, in the hope of learning English and kick-starting their careers.
Gloria’s mother, Emanuela, said: “Gloria told us that all the elevators were blocked, I think they tried to use the stairs.” The couple have not been heard of since.
A family lawyer said there is now “no hope” for the couple. “I heard the recording of Gloria’s phone call to her mum,” lawyer Maria Cristina Sandrin told the Ansa news agency.
“She says thanks for what she did for her. They were saying goodbye. There are no grounds to hope that Gloria and Marco are still alive.”
“Gloria graduated in October and went to London because there are no professional opportunities here (in Italy), not even for those who graduate with top marks.”
Housing minister vows to ‘support every family affected’
Housing minister Alok Sharma has said the Government would “support every family that is affected”.
He said: “I can also tell colleagues that in the department we have already started talking to local authorities and housing associations on how we can get help in getting checks done quickly on the buildings that there are currently, so that work is under way and will set out more details about that later on today.”
Mr Hurd, opening the briefing, also said people are “anxiously waiting for the news of their loved ones who are still missing”. He added:
“It has not been possible to conduct a thorough search as there is still considerable smouldering and internal collapse.
“A full search is unlikely to be feasible for some time until the fire is completely out.”
Mr Hurd said the Government would do “everything we can” to provide additional support in terms of trauma counselling for firefighters.
Firefighters ‘may be at risk of developing mental health problems’
Firefighters may be at risk of developing mental health problems given the kinds of tragic scene they witness on the job, according to a 2016 blog by William Murphy of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
Crew members may need counselling after fatal incidents but there is a huge stigma surrounding mental health in the fire service.
The FBU pointed to research published by mental health charity Mind showing that 40% of firefighters have been prescribed anti-depressants and 36% believed they would be treated in a negative way if they disclosed a mental health problem.
FBU national officer Sean Starbuck said: “The absolutely devastating scenes that firefighters witnessed at Grenfell will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
“They are heroic men and women who just get on with the job and don’t complain, but at the end of the day, they’re human and will be affected by what they see.
“The priority today is to make sure that everything possible is done to take care of their mental wellbeing after such a horrific disaster. All firefighters need to know that it is okay to say I’m not okay.”
MP David Lammy’s friend feared dead
David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, has revealed that one of his friends lived on the 20th floor and was still sending Facebook messages at 3.30am.
He is now feared dead.
He said that there must be “culpability for the irresponsibility” behind the Grenfell Tower Fire. David Lammy says: “It is time to ensure that criminal investigations are taking place as well”.
He says his friend who lived in the tower is missing. He says that “there must be culpability for irresponsibility which is what seems to have taken place on this occasion”.
Jeremy Corbyn enters debate
Steven Swinford is at Westminster, he writes:
Jeremy Corbyn is here. He says he is “angry” that fire prevention measures “didn’t work”. He says that the people he met there this morning had raised concerns about the building “and their concerns were not answered”.
He added: “There are thousands of tower blocks around our country. Every person living in a tower block today will be frightened, traumatised”
Mr Corbyn says the inquiry must be “speedy” and “open”. He says that Kensington is a “tale of two cities”. He says that people who are more homeless must not be sent far away but rehoused locally.
He says “properties must be found, requisitioned if necessary” as he says it cannot be right that there are lots of empty luxury flats.
Meanwhile, Hilary Benn, a Labour MP, said that many people who followed advice to stay put lost their lives while those who left survived.
He said: “It’s essential that we give people the information they need and the guidance they need, and it may vary from block to block, and I don’t think that can wait.”
MPs confront fire minister about Grenfell Tower disaster
Nick Hurd, the fire minister, is addressing MPs in Parliament about the Grenfell Tower fire and has described it as a”horrific event” and a “national tragedy”, writes Steven Swinford.
Hurd said firefighters have “seen things and heard things that none of us would wish and have had to work in the most arduous circumstances possible”.
He said that a full search of the building “unlikely to be feasible for some time” because it is still smouldering.
He said that the cause of the fire is not yet clear and that it is “important not to jump to conclusions”. He said that it is an “exceptionally complex investigation” that is “likely to take many months”.
MPs have been confronting Mr Hurd about the Grenfell Tower fire at a meeting in Parliament.
Emma Dent Coad, the new MP for Kensington, says “our community is traumatised and angry”.
She asks “were warnings from community leaders taken into account and acted upon?”
Shadow housing minister John Healey says he has just returned from the site and that “firefighters of 30 years experience said that they had never seen anything like it”.
He says that “no fire in any single flat should have led to such devastation”. He asks when a cabinet member will be appointed to oversee the review.
He also says sprinklers should be fitted in every tower block
Philip Hammond cancels Mansion House speech due to blaze
Chancellor Philip Hammond has cancelled his annual Mansion House address to City leaders following the Grenfell Tower fire disaster.
In a statement released on Twitter on Thursday afternoon, Mr Hammond said: “In view of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, I have withdrawn from giving the Mansion House speech tonight. My thoughts are with the local community.”
The Chancellor was set to use his speech to reassure businesses they would still have access to investment funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB) after Brexit.
Sadiq Khan demands interim report ‘by end of summer at latest’
Theresa May’s announcement came just before a demand by mayor of London Sadiq Khan that an inquiry be held.
He said the “full scale of the tragedy is becoming clear and there are pressing questions, which demand urgent answers”.
“That is why I am demanding a full, independent public inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower. In light of concerns about the safety of other tower blocks that have been similarly refurbished, the inquiry needs to produce an interim report by the end of this summer at the latest.”
PM: ‘We need to know an explanation’
Mrs May said: “We need to know what happened, we need to know an explanation.
“We owe that to the families, to the people who have lost loved ones and the homes in which they lived.
“That is why I am ordering a full public inquiry so that we can get to the answers, we can find out exactly what happened.”
May announces full public inquiry into Grenfell Tower fire
Firefighter’s poignant helmet photo
A firefighter has been praised online for his poignant photo posted in response to tackling the Grenfell Tower blaze.
Twitter user @crispymick, a London firefighter, shared a photo of his helmet with his name and the code for Tottenham Fire Station on so he could be identified in case he didn’t make it out.
“You know it’s not going to be good when your told to write your name on you helmet before you go in!” he posted.
‘I just want to know she’s safe and well’
Eleanor Steafel is at the scene. She has this dispatch:
Hasina Begum is desperately looking for her sister, who she believes was living in the building with her three children.
31-year-old Rohima Begum-Ali had moved to the area from Birmingham recently, with her young children Maryam, 6, Hafizah, 5, and Muhammad, 3, but had not yet told her family her new address.
“We used to live here when we were kids,” she said. “She always wanted to move back to this area.
“I had this gut feeling last night, I felt that one of my own was in that building.
“My cousin thinks she was living there, she said she saw her there recently.”
Hasina and her family are currently trawling through a list of residents to try to find out if Rohima was living there, but officials have told them there are so many names it may take a couple of hours to get a definitive list of names.
They are trying to stay positive, hoping that she had moved into a different block.
“If anyone knows anything or has seen them, please ask them to get in touch with us straight away,” Hasina said. “I just want to know she’s safe and well.”
Corbyn: ‘The truth has got to come out and will come out’
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said “the truth has got to come out” as he visited those affected by the Grenfell Tower blaze.
Mr Corbyn visited St Clements Church, where volunteers have set up a refuge centre.
He met with volunteers and community leaders as they showed him the donations that have been pouring in since the disaster.
“It’s great that you’re in place,” he told them.
When asked about an investigation into the circumstances of the fire, he replied: “We have to get to the bottom of this.
“The truth has got to come out and it will.”
MPs to question a Government over Grenfell Tower fire
As the investigation into the cause of the fire gathers pace, special arrangements have been made for MPs to question a Government minister on the Grenfell Tower fire on Thursday afternoon.
MPs would normally expect to hear a ministerial statement on a tragedy of this scale in the House of Commons, but this is not possible because Parliament has not yet formally reopened following the snap election.
But Speaker John Bercow announced on Wednesday that a meeting with a minister would be arranged. It is due to take place at 1.30pm in the Commons’ secondary chamber, Westminster Hall.
Fire minister Nick Hurd is expected to make a statement and take questions from MPs.
Mr Bercow said on Wednesday that the meeting could be attended by “colleagues gravely concerned about this matter”, but that it would not be an official proceeding of Parliament. It was not immediately clear whether the session would be televised.
Jeremy Corbyn visits the scene
The Labour leader is at the scene in west London.
Yesterday Mr Corbyn said that Prime Minister Theresa May and her government should answer questions about the tower block fire in London.
Speaking to LBC Radio, Corbyn said budget cuts and inaction on part of the government might have led to the blaze that killed 12 people and injured dozens more in the 24-story Grenfell Tower earlier in the day.
If you deny local authorities the funding they need, then there is a price that’s paid,” the opposition leader argued.
“I believe we need to ask questions about what facilities and resources have been given to local authorities that have tower blocs in the area and, frankly, most do. We need to deal with this –we need people to be safe living in high rise buildings,” he added.
He also called for an investigation into reports that Gavin Barwell, the former housing minister who was recently appointed as the Prime Minister’s adviser, had failed to OK a fire safety review request he had received.
First victim confirmed: Syrian refugee Mohammed al-Haj Ali
Josie Ensor, The Telegraph’s Middle East correspondent, has been working hard to confirm the first victim of the Grenfell Tower fire.
She has this dispatch:
A Syrian refugee who fled his war-torn country for a better life is feared to be the first confirmed victim of a fire in west London that has left at least 12 dead.
Mohammed al-Haj Ali, a 23-year-old civil engineering student at West London University, was separated from his brother Omar on the stairs as they tried to escape the inferno engulfing the Grenfell tower block.
Friends and family confirmed Omar, a 25-year-old business student, made it out alive and is reportedly recovering from smoke inhalation at Kings Cross hospital. However, Mohammed was lost in the chaos and has not been heard from since.
Abdulaziz Almashi, a friend of the family and co-founder of the UK-based Syrian Solidarity Campaign, said Mohammed was following Omar when he became overwhelmed by the smoke and was forced to return to their flat on the 14th floor.
He remained trapped for two hours, with the firefighters unable to reach above the 13th storey.
“He sent a message to family in Syria in his final moments just saying ‘the fire is here now, goodbye’,” Mr Almashi told the Telegraph.
Marjorie Bahhaj, a friend of the brothers, said: “This is horrible after all he has been through and a place of safety leads to his death. From a government that starts war with its citizens to our government that neglects building regulations….. when will all leaders care for their citizens?
“It feels we as British let him down he was supposed to be safe with us.”
The brothers, along with their younger brother Hashem, 20, sister and parents, fled Daraa, in southern Syria – the cradle of the revolution against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad – three years ago. They were granted asylum in the UK.
“He survived Assad, the war in Syria, only to die in a tower block in London. They were so happy to reach the UK, it was a new start for them and they were so grateful,” said Mr Almashi. “There are no words.”
Meanwhile a family with five, originally from Lebanon, are among the many missing people.
Nadia Choucair, her husband and three daughters, lived on the 27th floor of the building and are not thought to have made it out.
Also unaccounted for is teenager Nurhuda El-Wahabi, as well as her older brother Yasin, aged 21, both of whom are understood to have been inside the tower block when the fire broke out.
Khadija Saye, who lives on the 20th floor of Grenfell Tower, is also among those who are currently missing. Friends said that she was recognisable by the Africa pendant she always wears around her neck.
Grenfell Tower looms over a social housing estate in North Kensington, just streets away from some of the most expensive homes in the world in Notting Hill.
The area has a large immigrant population, but many families have lived in the area for years, passing their low-rent homes onto their children.
Pregnant woman: There was no fire alarm – nothing
Speaking to The Telegraph’s Harry Yorke, Mary Adam, who lived in Flat 14 with her brother Yasin, said that the fire had started at the flat next door, number 16.
Mrs Adam, who is heavily pregnant and is now being housed in temporary accommodation, said: “There was no fire alarm – nothing.”
Tributes for hero firefighters
Tributes have been paid on social media to the ‘brave’ London firefighters who worked through the night tackling the blaze.
More than 200 firefighters continued the grim search for victims overnight. Several firefighters suffered minor injuries in the blaze.
Many social media users have praised the fire service, @mrkernow posted: “Thank you @LondonFire for your bravery and professionalism.”
Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan tweeted a photo of firemen, with the caption: “As others run out, they march in. Absolute heroes.”
‘We’re not going to make it’ – Harrowing final messages
As fire raged through the tower in the early hours, one teenage girl who lived in the building rang a close friend to tell her: “We are not going to make it, I love you.”
The girl’s mother is understood to be Nadia Choucair, a teaching assistant at Avondale Park Primary School, who lived on one of the top floors of the tower with her husband, three daughters and mother in law.
A local resident named Hulya said: “My neighbour told me that one of the daughters rang her own daughter at about 12.30 saying they weren’t going to make it and that she loved her.
“She’s about 13 I think. Nobody has been able to contact any of them since. It’s just awful.”
Death toll rises
Seventeen people have died in the Grenfell Tower fire but the death toll is still expected to rise, Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan Police has confirmed.
Specialist urban search and rescue teams are being brought in to make the block safe to allow firefighters and the police to carry out investigations, following the devastating blaze that started in the early hours of Wednesday.
Search dogs will also be used to help locate the missing in the wreckage.
Commander Stuart Cundy, of the Metropolitan Police, said: “Sadly I can confirm that the number of people who have died is now 17.
“We do believe that that number will sadly increase.”
Detective Chief Inspector Matt Bonner has been appointed to lead the investigation, he added.
London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said: “This will be a detailed fingertip search.
“Obviously this will be a very slow and painstaking process.”
Speaking from the scene, as family and friends of Grenfell residents continued the desperate search for information about the whereabouts of their loved ones, Mr Cundy said: “There are still a number of people who are receiving treatment in hospital.
“There are 37 people receiving treatment, of which 17 are still in critical care.
“Like we explained yesterday, our absolute priority for all of us is about identifying and locating those people that are still missing.
“It would be wrong for me to get into numbers that I do not believe are accurate.”
‘I can’t describe my feelings. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. It’s terrible’
For the families and friends of those missing after the worst residential fire in living memory daybreak over West London brought renewed agony, writes Patrick Sawer.
A day after fire swept through Grenfell Tower, leaving behind a blackened, gutted hulk, dozens of people were still missing feared dead.
And in the streets around the 22 storey tower block distraught relatives had begun to lose any hope of hearing from those feared caught up in the devastating blaze.
Eden Assefa, a mother of three with several friends who lived in the tower, told The Telegraph: “We don’t know what to expect. We don’t know if we should still hope for news.
“I know so many families in the tower. We just don’t know what to do.”
Mrs Assefa spent the night praying for news of Jessica Urbano, a 12-year-old friend of her daughter Mikla, who was last heard from when she called her mother at 1.40am on Wednesday saying she was trapped inside the burning tower.
“My daughter is distraught. She can’t focus because of what’s happened to Jessica,” she said.
Another of Mrs Assefa’s friends is also thought to have lost a child to the inferno.
Genet Paulos’s son Isaac, aged just two, is missing.
Mrs Paulos and her eldest son Luca somehow managed to escape the flames and are being treated in hospital.
“Genet is in shock. She doesn’t know what to do,” she said.
Friends and neighbours gathered at community centres in the area, such as the Latymer, in the shadow of the Westway flyover, desperate for any news of their loved ones.
Among them was a group of Moroccan women with several friends in Grenfell Tower.
One of them, Mrs Nluar, a mother of three who preferred not to give her first name, has not heard from her friend Menana, a librarian at Ladbroke Grove library, since she waved to her in the street three days ago.
Also missing is Menana’s daughter Meriden, 12, along with Mrs Nluar’s friend Fouzia El Wahbi, her daughter Mourhouda, 16, sons Mehdi, 8, and Yasmine, 21, and their father.
“It’s terrible to think your friends are missing and have been burnt inside that building,” said Mrs Nluar. “I can’t describe my feelings. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. It’s terrible.”
As she left to continue her search volunteers at the Latymer and other church’s and community centres continued to sort and distribute the mounds of donations left by well-wishers of all stripes for those who have lost everything.
Passers-by scrawled messages of hope and sorrow on a white wall to the side of the Latymer’s building.
“The community has been really kind and generous,” said Mrs Assefa, wiping away a tear in her determination to remain resolute.
“People have come together and brought food, drink, clothes – anything to support us. It’s pure kindness.”
Grenfell Tower firm was handed fire brigade enforcement notices
The management company responsible for Grenfell Tower had been slapped with enforcement notices from the fire brigade following a blaze at a neighbouring high rise block, accounts show.
Following a fire at Adair Tower, put down to arson, Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) was ordered by London Fire Brigade to provide self-closing devices “on all flat front doors and to improve fire safety in the escape staircases”.
Fire authorities also issued the same enforcement notice for the nearby Hazelwood Tower, according to KCTMO’s latest published accounts.
Accounts for the year to March 31 2016 also show Grenfell underwent a £10 million refurbishment, with the cash used for the installation of insulated exterior cladding, double glazed windows and a new communal heating system.
However, the documents also show the project was delayed because “two sub contractors went into liquidation”.
Overall KCTMO was handed £11 million last year by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to manage its housing stock which consists of 6,900 rentable homes and over 2,500 leasehold properties.
Four bosses at KCTMO, including chief executive Robert Black, shared £760,000 in salaries for managing properties in the borough.
While a breakdown of salaries was not provided, the four were listed as “senior management”.
In a financial breakdown, the accounts show KCTMO turned over £17.6 million last year and recorded total income of £4.4 million, up from £3.5 million in 2015.
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry donate
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry have made a donation to the Evening Standard’s emergency appeal for the Dispossessed Fund to help those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.
William, Kate and Harry urged others to follow suit and give generously to the appeal.
In an statement, a Kensington Palace spokesman said: “The tragedy at Grenfell Tower has left a number of local people in need of urgent assistance.
“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are pleased the Evening Standard’s Dispossessed Fund has immediately swung into action.
“As residents of the local area they are keen to offer their immediate support.”
Two Italians reportedly missing
They have been identified as Gloria Trevisan and Marco Gottardi, both from the Veneto region of northern Italy.
Mr Gottardi’s father Giannino told Italy’s ANSA news agency that he had been on the phone to his son and his girlfriend “up till the last minute, then they told us that the flat was full of smoke and communications were interrupted. We’re just hoping for a miracle”, he said.
Marco Gottardi is an architect from a town near Venice, while his girlfriend is from the city of Padua.
There are also reports that two Italian families who lived in the tower block may be missing.
“There were two families with children… we have no news of them,” said Beatrice Antonini, an estate agent from Real Estate Genius.
She added: “We don’t know what happened and I’m going to the scene to get more information and find out if my clients are well”.
Ruptured gas main had to be isolated, fire chiefs say
The London Fire Brigade (LFB) said a ruptured gas main in the block had to be isolated before fire crews were able to put the blaze out and bring it under control by 1.14am.
A 40 metre aerial appliance was brought in from Surrey Fire and Rescue Service to help with this.
London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said the number of people who are unaccounted for is still unknown as some may have got out by themselves or gone into other flats.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated.
A large number of material has been taken away for sampling in detailed searches of the flats as evidence is collected along with identification of the people who live in the flats.
She said “in quite a short period of time” investigators will try to pinpoint the cause of the fire.
Firefighters who worked in intense heat and under falling debris have suffered nine minor injuries, ranging from burns, smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion but the potential psychological damage to them could be a future concern.
Queen says her ‘thoughts and prayers are with those families’
The Queen has paid tribute to the “bravery” of firefighters who have battled the Grenfell Tower fire.
She also praised the “incredible generosity” of volunteers offering their support to those affected.
In a statement from Buckingham Palace, the Queen said: “My thoughts and prayers are with those families who have lost loved ones in the Grenfell Tower fire and the many people who are still critically ill in hospital.
“Prince Philip and I would like to pay tribute to the bravery of firefighters and other emergency services officers who put their own lives at risk to save others.
“It is also heartening to see the incredible generosity of community volunteers rallying to help those affected by this terrible event.”
Family of lost 6-month-old baby speak out
A six-month-old baby and her parents are missing after the Grenfell Tower blaze, writes Helena Horton.
Adel Chaoui, whose cousin Farah Hamdan as well as her husband Omar Belkadi are still missing – along with their child, told The Telegraph of the horrific struggle the family has faced in trying to find them.
He said protocol means hospitals and authorities are not allowed to give out information, and they have had to beg for scraps of news from sympathetic nurses and police officers, who begged him to keep quiet about their identities lest they get in trouble for helping.
His cousin’s children, two girls aged 6 and 10, were eventually found yesterday in a bad way in hospital after their grueling search – with no help from authorities.
The children, one of whom is in a coma and the other, who is sedated because of trauma, were in the same hospital, unidentified.
Mr Chaoui told The Telegraph: “We have a six and an eight-year old – one is traumatised and the other is in a coma. When she went into hospital she was just screaming.
“And rather than trying to identify who these children are and who their parents are, they’ve taken the decision to mean that their protocol means they shouldn’t identify them at this time.
“We have had no help from the police, we understand that they’re busy but they’ve got casualties in the hospitals. People are having to make contact with the hospitals themselves who are being told they can’t get any information.”
MP tells of artist friend missing at Grenfell
More from David Lammy’s BBC interview.
He spoke passionately about the disaster and told how family friend Khadija Saye, 24, has been missing since it broke out.
Mr Lammy said he had known Ms Saye, who worked for his wife, for a “number of years”.
He said she was a “beautiful young woman with an amazing career ahead of her, wonderful artist, her work is on show in Venice at the moment, and we’ve heard nothing”.
“We hope and pray that she is amongst them (in hospital) and not perished in that building as I suspect hundreds will have done by the end of this count.”
Mr Lammy also told the programme that those who lived in the block were not the poorest Londoners, but were “the lucky ones who actually are in social housing, most of them will be the working poor in London, so this is absolutely the face of poverty”.
He added: “Many of us across the country have been caught up in an election, knocking on housing estate doors right across the country, travelling up to the top floors of tower blocks and we know as politicians that the conditions in this country are unacceptable.
“We built buildings in the 70s, those 70s buildings, many of them should be demolished, they haven’t got easy fire escapes, they’ve got no sprinklers – it’s totally, totally unacceptable in Britain that this is allowed to happen and people lose their lives in this way and people should be held to account.”
David Lammy MP: ‘This is corporate manslaughter’
In a powerful interview on Radio 4’s Today programme, Tottenham MP David Lammy described the disaster as “corporate manslaughter”.
Mr Lammy has a friend who is missing after the disaster.
The Labour MP described the fire as an “outrage”, stating: “This is the richest borough in our country treating its citizens in this way.
“We should call it what it is, it’s corporate manslaughter, that’s what it is and there should be arrests made, frankly.”
Mr Lammy, who was speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, also said he had heard nothing from family friend Khadija Saye, 24, since the fire.
“As the seconds pass we grow more sad and bleak every second,” he said.
Meanwhile, Theresa May is expected to visit the scene today.
‘Grenfell residents felt alienated from owners’
The chairwoman of the London Assembly housing committee called for residents to be “much more involved in the management of their blocks”.
The Green Party’s Sian Berry told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that residents at Grenfell felt “alienated” from the property owners “in many, many ways”, and said they had raised “all kinds of issues, not just fire safety, and it seems like that relationship had broken down”.
She added: “Who knows these buildings better than the people who live in them? And when they raise fire safety, when they raise life-threatening issues, they need to be listened to, and there just currently isn’t the structure for that to happen – that’s a structural issue, it’s not just about this block, it’s about residents across London.
“There are many, many groups, like the Grenfell Action Group, who are getting involved in trying to make their homes better and they are treated with suspicion by the authorities – they are regarded as troublemakers as this group was – and I think we need to change that at a much bigger level.”
Friends and family have been desperately searching for their loved ones who live in the building as people appeared to be trapped inside.
Mariem Elgwahry last spoke to her mother at 2.30am and has not been heard from since.
Her loved ones are scouring hospitals and community centres to find her.
Her friend said: “Please let me know if you see Mariem Elgwahry. She was on the 19th floor Grenfell tower. Last someone heard from her was 2.30AM she was with her mum!!
“Please let anyone know if she has been located thank you for all your help please share!! I’ve been to the rugby club, harrow club Laymer Christian church with no luck yet.”
Khadija Saye’s family and friends have been desperately searching for her.
Adz Mendez, her cousin, wrote: “If anyone has any information or know of anyone by the name of Khadija Saye or Mary Mendy please get in touch.
“My aunt and cousin are stuck in the fire at the Grenfell Tower in Latimer and we are unable to get in touch with them. May God be with them all”.
David Lammy MP wrote: “If you have any information about Khadija Saye pls contact me. She is our dear friend, a beautiful soul and emerging artist.”
Dozens more names are emerging of those missing since the Grenfell Tower disaster. Keep up to date with the developments here.
Meanwhile, this is the memorial wall that has sprung up overnight:
Community response ‘has been phenomenal’
Community centres have been overwhelmed with donations as volunteers and neighbours pulled together after the Grenfell Tower fire.
Churches, mosques and sports centres have opened their doors to help victims of the tragedy.
Many have been flooded with so much food, clothing and other supplies that they were turning new donations away.
Wisps of smoke could still be seen escaping from the tower block on Thursday morning as desperate residents tried to track down missing loved ones.
Missing persons posters were taped up in doorways, along with offers of help, including from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who offered free food at one of his nearby restaurants.
Satta Padham, of the Sikh Welfare and Awareness Team, said: “There was a lot of chaos yesterday, people were missing, a lot of people slept on floors and people brought supplies – food, clothing and essentials that they could grab on the way.
“What I remember was the smell of burning – it gets you straight in the back of the throat.
“There were a lot of people trying to help from the local area, they all knew somebody in there.
“These are real people that have lost family and lost their homes – 150 families were in the building, a lot of children and women are still missing.
“But there has been a great solidarity between people in the community.”
£1m pledged to disaster victims
More than £1 million has been raised for people affected by the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower.
Companies, individuals and charities sprang into action to help those in need of food, water, clothes and shelter after the inferno in north Kensington.
Three appeals have raised a seven-figure sum in just over 24 hours since the blaze which killed a dozen people and left scores more injured.
An appeal on JustGiving launched by Karolina Hanusova raised £286,437 while another set up by Hayley Yearwood has generated £431,910.
The London Evening Standard launched an appeal on a dedicated website dispossessedfund.org.uk, raising £282,939 as of 6am on Thursday.
The three appeals had more than 30,000 supporters between them, with supporters leaving messages including “My heart goes out to all those that had to gone through this” and “A terrible tragedy. My heart cries for all those lives lost”.
David Holdsworth, chief operating officer at the Charity Commission, has urged people to give to registered causes.
He said: “We are saddened to hear of the tragic events in west London.
“There are many registered charities on the ground doing what they do best to assist those who have been affected.
“We are urging members of the public that wish to make donations to check that they give to a registered charity in order to best support those affected, and also importantly to check with those charities what support they need – whether that is money, time or other essential supplies.”