Latest on the Grenfell Tower fire: First victim named as PM orders inquiry

Lucy White
At Least Twelve Dead After Fire Rages Through London Tower Block
The search for people in Grenfell Tower has been postponed due to structural concerns (Source: Getty)

The search for residents of Grenfell Tower, which was ravaged by a fire in the early hours of yesterday morning, is still underway and Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered a full inquiry into the incident.

The death toll has risen from the 12 reported fatalities yesterday, as Metropolitan Police commander Stuart Cundy has confirmed 17 people have been found dead.

The first victim has been named on social media by family and friends as Mohammad Alhajali.

Alhajali was reportedly a Syrian refugee who became separated from his brother Omar when fleeing the fire. Omar is said to be in hospital.

A House of Commons briefing took place this afternoon, where housing minister Alok Sharma concluded by saying that every family from Grenfell Tower would be rehomed locally, according to the Guardian.

The meeting was also attended by David Collins, a former chair of the Grenfell Tower residents’ association.

He said there was a “vacuum of accountability” in the building's management, according to the Guardian, which meant his warnings of a fire went ignored.

Meanwhile, chancellor Philip Hammond has pulled out from giving his planned speech at the Annual Bankers and Merchants Dinner at Mansion House.

There are still "unknown numbers" of people in the north Kensington apartment block, London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton told the BBC, but rescuers do not expect to find anyone else alive.

She added that the search was being postponed due to structural safety, but that internal shoring would be set up and sniffer dogs would be sent in before the firefighters.

"I have got my urban search and rescue team who are coming down to make an assessment of the building, to look at ways we can shore up the building to enable ourselves and the police to carry on the search in the building," she said.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) sent more than 200 firefighters to the scene yesterday, after it received reports of a fire at 12.54am on Wednesday morning.

It said that firefighters worked with the gas authority to isolate a ruptured gas main in the block, before extinguishing the blaze which was under control by 1.14am.

However, LFB added that the cause of the fire was still unknown.

Prime Minister Theresa May attended the scene this morning, followed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Politicians have launched renewed calls for answers to the tragedy, as it emerged residents had raised concerns about the safety of the block.

In a chillingly prescient blog post, an action group representing residents of Grenfell Tower wrote last November that they feared a deadly event such as a massive fire would be the only way to expose their landlord's “incompetence”.

That landlord, the private company Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, said in a statement that it was “aware that concerns have been raised historically by residents” but that “we always take all concerns seriously and these will form part of our forthcoming investigations”.

Councils across the country are now launching reviews into buildings across their wards, aiming to prevent such a tragedy from recurring.

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