Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Cladding used in London's Grenfell Tower is 'banned in Britain'


At least 58 people may have died in the massive fire that engulfed a 24-storey residential tower housing over 100 families in west London, Scotland Yard said on Saturday, warning that the casualty figures "may increase". "This number 58 may change".

"What I'm now absolutely focused on is ensuring that we get that support on the ground", May said in a BBC Newsnight interview. "So that 58 would include that 30", he said. The toll had previously been put at 30.

"I have heard the concerns and I have ordered immediate action across the board to help victims' relatives and the survivors", she said.

After meeting with Grenfell survivors on Friday, Ms May announced a 5 million pound (AUS$8 million) fund to help them and expressed sorrow for their plight.

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said: "We have no confirmation that any Irish citizens are caught up in the incident but we stand ready to provide assistance".

The first victim to be formally identified was Mohammed Alhajali, a 23-year-old Syrian refugee, who came to Britain in 2014 with his brother.

Earlier in the day, Scotland Yard expressed fears that all the victims of the massive fire may never be identified.

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After having spoken to many members of the congregation as well as others who came in after the service to see him, Khan paid tribute to the local community for its resilience but said a feeling of anger remains.

Sixteen bodies have been taken to the mortuary after flames tore through the 1970s tower block - while 14 others have been recovered from the building.

"Everything possible will be done to help them", the prime minister said of the victims in a statement.

She has told Councils to complete urgent safety checks on similar tower blocks.

A top former Conservative politician and Times of London columnist blasted May over her handling of the fire, and said that she must resign.

Anger is rising against British authorities over safety failings and a widely perceived slow release of information.

Queen Elizabeth II said the disaster had cast a sombre pall over Britain, but insisted the country was showing resolve in the face of adversity.

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Alongside both police and fire investigations into the blaze, she has promised to set up a public inquiry.

The blaze tore through all floors of the building and took more than 200 firefighters 24 hours to bring it under control.

The tower underwent refurbishment by construction firm, Rydon, in 2016, and it has since emerged that a cheaper, more flammable version of the exterior cladding was used in the work.

The tragedy has provoked a huge response from nearby communities. Hundreds have been left homeless, putting more pressure on officials in a city plagued by a chronic housing shortage.

Some 110 families are reported to have been given temporary accommodation by in hotels within the local area.

"My understanding is that the cladding that was reported wasn't in accordance with United Kingdom building regulations", Mr Hands told Sky News. "We were seeking a change to the building regulations for that very goal", he added. "But my understanding is that the best advice is that retrofitting sprinklers may not always be the best technical way of ensuring fire safety in a building", he said.

Grief is turning to outrage in the wake of London's deadly Grenfell Tower apartment block fire, with British Prime Minister Theresa May confronted by protesters and a crowd of angry locals storming the local town hall.

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