79 now believed to have died in London high-rise fire


Five people who died in the blaze have been identified and 74 were missing and presumed dead following the devastating blaze in the council-owned Grenfell tower block in west London.

The images, captured by a specialist police recovery team working alongside colleagues from the London Ambulance Service and the London Fire Brigade, show homes completely destroyed, with deep layers of ash and charred rubble covering the floors.

All the images were taken in units where police know that everyone inside has been accounted for.

Police had announced the death toll as 58 on Saturday, and confirmed that a 23-year-old Syrian refugee was the first victim of the huge fire.

Experts say the composite material spurred on the blaze and acted like a chimney to draw flames up the 24-storey tower with horrifying speed. The conditions due to the fire damage verge on indescribable, which is why this will be such a lengthy operation taking weeks to complete.

Cundy said the "awful reality" was that it might not be possible to identify all the victims.

Five people who had been reported missing after the disaster have been found safe and well, he said.

"I believe there are 79 people that are either dead, or missing, and sadly I have to presume are dead", Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy told reporters. Cundy added that authorities are investigating whether any crimes had been committed in the fire. Some said they had never seen a building fire advance so quickly.

British officials said Sunday that exterior cladding used in a recent renovation of the building may have been banned under United Kingdom building regulations. Officials and UK Chancellor Philip Hammond have indicated that the external rain-screen cladding believed to be the cause of the rapid spread of the fire at the Grenfell Tower may have been banned under building regulations in the UK. "My understanding is the cladding in question, this flammable cladding which is banned in Europe and the U.S., is also banned here", Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said in a recent interview with BBC's The Andrew Marr Show.

In addition, British health authorities will provide long-term bereavement counselling for those who lost loved ones in the tragedy.