Death toll from Grenfell Tower fire in West London rises to 12

 
Lucy White
TOPSHOT-BRITAIN-INCIDENT-FIRE
Flames have engulfed the Grenfell Tower in west London (Source: Getty)

At least 12 people have died after a huge fire engulfed a west London tower block this morning, the Metropolitan Police said today.

Earlier today, Met Police commander Stuart Cundy said the number of fatalities was likely to rise.

A spokesperson for Number 10 said the Prime Minister "is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life in the Grenfell Tower".

Theresa May convened a cross-government meeting at the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, the emergency planning body, at 4pm "to co-ordinate the response and ensure the government is ready to assist the emergency services and local authorities".

London Fire Brigade arrived at the Grenfell Tower on the Lancaster West Estate at 1am, and said the flames had spread all the way from the second floor to the top of the 27-storey block.

Residents trapped in the block could be heard screaming for help, according to witnesses.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton told Sky: "In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale." She added that the cause of the fire was so far unknown.

The London Ambulance Service said it had taken 64 people to hospital, while more were making their own way.

Grenfell Tower blaze: What you need to know

Residents are reporting no fire alarms sounded in the tower. "Someone started banging on my door saying there’s a fire and to get out," a woman called Zoe told the BBC.

"When I got on the landing it was thick with smoke but the smoke alarms weren’t going off, which is quite scary."

Eyewitness Jody Martin said: "I watched one person falling out, I watched another woman holding her baby out the window... hearing screams, I was yelling everyone to get down and they were saying 'We can't leave our apartments, the smoke is too bad on the corridors'."

A blog post from the tower's action group reveals some residents feared an event like this was coming. The post read:

It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord.

Many eyewitnesses on Twitter reported the cladding of the building was rapidly consumed by flames, and that polystyrene-like material has been dropping off since.

Construction and maintenance business Rydon has confirmed it renovated the block in the summer of last year, and said it "met all required building control, fire regulation and health & safety standards".

However, it said it would be cooperating with the relevant authorities to establish what happened.

Tony Devenish, London Assembly member for Kensington and Chelsea, said "rightly questions are already being asked about the safety measures in place to prevent this kind of tragedy" and added that he would be "seeking answers to these questions".

"My heart goes out to all of those caught up in the horrendous blaze at Grenfell Tower overnight, especially to those who lost their lives and lost loved ones," he added.

The new MP for Kensington, Labour's Emma Dent Coad, had previously raised concerns about safety in tower blocks in the area in her former roles as a local councillor and a member of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.

More than 40 fire engines and 200 fire fighters battled the blaze earlier today.

"We are dealing with a really serious fire that spread throughout the building," a spokesman for the fire brigade said.

"The crews are doing all that they possibly can to tackle this fire."

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There were understood to be structural concerns about the building. However firefighters are now satisfied the structure is stable.

The Metropolitan Police have also advised the public that the A40 is closed in both directions due to the fire.

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