A deadly overnight fire engulfed a 27-story London apartment building Wednesday killing at least 12 people and injuring more than 74 others with the death toll expected to rise.
More than 200 firefighters battled the inferno, which officials called an “unprecedented incident,” Fox News reports.
One witness, who identified herself as Sofia, told The Guardian: “I heard loads of young girls crying out for help…I can hear people screaming for help and they are dying.”
— London Fire Brigade (@LondonFire) June 14, 2017
Jody Martin told the BBC she watched desperate residents of the building trying to escape the blaze.
“I watched one person falling out, I watched another woman holding her baby out the window,” she said. “I was yelling at everyone to get down and they were saying, ‘We can’t leave our apartments, the smoke is too bad on the corridors.'”
The inferno lit up the night sky and spewed black smoke from the windows of the Grenfell Tower in North Kensington. A plume of smoke stretched for miles across the sky after dawn, revealing the blackened, flame-licked wreckage of the building, which was still burning over 12 hours later.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 14, 2017
Daily Mail reports that a community leader working to locate victims, who asked not to be named, believes nobody who lived on the top three residential floors survived and the building could collapse in the next 24 hours.
He said: ‘We have a list of missing people – there are so many. It’s possible there are more than 50, possibly hundreds’.
Those who managed to flee said it was ‘like hell on earth’ inside as they scrambled over dead bodies and claimed there was no working fire alarm, sprinklers failed and the only staircase out was blocked.
At the height of the blaze petrified residents were seen throwing themselves and their children out of windows to avoid being burned to death – others made ropes by tying bed sheets together or used them as makeshift parachutes and jumped.
The local council, the block’s landlord and the contractor used to refurbish the building last year face serious questions about how the fire took hold so quickly in a tower branded a ‘death trap’ by survivors.
Police have said it is not possible to confirm how many people are unaccounted for because the building is still on fire more than 12 hours after it started.
Undertakers remove bodies from Grenfell Tower today but the recovery of the dead is likely to take several more days as the fire is still not out
A drone inspects the top floors of the wrecked tower block, where residents on the highest storeys are all feared dead after being trapped in their homes and then engulfed
Grenfell Tower is in one of London’s most diverse communities and this group sit on the pavement outside a temporary aid centre nearby, some of whom were in tears
Terrified residents trapped in a burning tower block were forced to knot bed sheets together to form makeshift ladders or jump from the 27-storey building in a desperate bid to escape the flames
A spokesman said: ‘It is too early to speculate what caused the fire and contributed to its spread. We will co-operate fully with all the relevant authorities in order to ascertain the cause of this tragedy.
‘We are aware that concerns have been raised historically by residents. We always take all concerns seriously and these will form part of our forthcoming investigations. While these investigations continue with our co-operation, our core priority at the moment is our residents’.
Commander Stuart Cundy, of the Metropolitan Police, said: ‘I can confirm six fatalities at this time but this figure is likely to rise during what will be a complex recovery operation over a number of days.’
Fire crews are searching the tower and Mr Cundy added: ‘I do anticipate that there may be people within that building that are as yet unaccounted for.’
Read the full story here.
Photos: Daily Mail