Home' Greymouth Star : June 16th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
London Tower Tragedy
8 - Friday, June 16, 2017
The government faces questions
about how such a devastating blaze as
the Grenfell Tower tragedy could have
occurred as Prime Minister Theresa May
promised a public inquiry into the fire
which gutted the 24-storey apartment
Smoke was still wafting out of the
blackened shell of the Grenfell Tower
early today where specialist firefighters
and dog search teams faced hazardous
conditions as they scoured the wreck,
with external cladding still falling from
Fire engulfed the social housing block,
where as many as 600 people lived in
more than 120 apartments, in the early
hours of Wednesday, turning it into a
flaming torch in minutes.
London police commander Stuart
Cundy said the death toll was expected
to rise and firefighters, who rescued 65,
have said they did not expect to find
any more sur vivors. Asked if the final
figure would be in double or triple digits,
Cundy said: “I ’d like to hope that it isn’t
going to be triple figures.”
He said the search of the gutted block
might take months and some victims
might never be identified. Thirty-seven
people remained in hospital, with 17 of
them in critical care.
“O ur absolute priority . . . is identifying
and locating those people who are still
missing,” Cundy said.
An investigation into the cause of the
blaze, the worst in the British capital
in a generation, was under way. But the
shock at its scale turned to anger and
Accounts of people trapped inside as
the blaze destroyed everything around
them, shouting for help, throwing
children to safety and trying to escape
through windows using makeshift ropes
from bed sheets tied together left the
nation in shock.
“ It was so preventable, and that ’s why
we’re so angry,” Alia Al-Ghabban, a
veterinary receptionist who lives on the
estate, said. “ We thought there were
going to be riots last night, and if it didn’t
(happen) last night, it will very soon.”
Opponents of May ’s government
demanded to know whether more could
have been done to prevent the disaster,
if building precautions such as fire doors
had been properly implemented and if
spending cuts to local authorities had
played a part.
“ Right now, people want answers and
it ’s absolutely right and that ’s why I
am today ordering a full public inquiry
into this disaster,” May, who visited the
scene overnight to meet members of the
emergency ser vices, said.
“ We need to know what happened,
we need to have an explanation of this.
People deser ve answers; the inquiry will
Local residents say there had been
repeated warnings about the safety of the
building, which recently under went an
exterior refurbishment, which included
new external cladding and windows.
The firm behind the work said the
project met all required building
detailing the refurbishment did not refer
to a type of fire barrier that building
safety experts said should be used when
high-rise blocks are being re-clad,
according to Reuters research.
“ We have to get to the bottom of this.
The truth has got to come out, and it
will,” opposition Labour leader Jeremy
Corbyn said as he visited volunteers at
the site. London Mayor Sadiq Khan
faced demands from clearly furious
locals for speedy answers and action
when he toured the area.
In parliament, the government ’s
fire and housing ministers said other
tower blocks which were also recently
refurbished would be assessed. They also
promised that those who had lost their
homes would be rehoused in the local
Sur vivors, many of whom lost all their
belongings in the blaze, spent the night
at emergency shelters, as charities and
local support groups were flooded with
piles of boxes full of clothes and bedding
from shocked Londoners.
Others gathered seeking news of the
missing. Semira Mohammed, 37, a
science technician who lives nearby, said
she knew a family of five who lived on
the 21st floor of the block.
“ I kept calling and calling,” she said.
“The phone was ringing but they didn’t
reply to us. We were from the same
community, and many in the tower were.
Maybe 70% are from Somalia, Sudan,
Queen Elizabeth said her thoughts
and prayers were with those families
who had lost loved ones and those still
critically ill in hospital.
“It is also heartening to see the
incredible generosity of community
volunteers rallying to help those
affected by this terrible event,” the
Her grandsons, Prince William and
Prince Harry, along with William’s wife
Kate, donated to a relief fund organised
by London’s local Evening Standard
The singer Adele was among many
Londoners who gathered close to the
burnt tower late on Wednesday to show
sympathy for the victims and sur vivors.
The tower, built in 1974 on the low-
rent housing estate in North Kensington,
sits in a part of west London surrounded
by some of the most affluent areas of the
By early today, there was no sign of
life in or around the blackened hulk.
Security cordons were in place around
the base of the tower and the ground was
littered with charred debris.
Outside the cordons, impromptu
tributes appeared with photos of missing
people, messages of condolences, flowers
“ I’m really angry about what ’s
happened,” said receptionist Samira
Jama, 50, who was helping her sister
collect belongings from an apartment
behind the cordon.
“ Hundreds of people still aren’t
accounted for — what happened to
them? Every person in a position of
power has to answer questions about
this.” — Reuters
with daughter, 12
The mother of a 12-year old girl
missing after the Grenfell Tower blaze
has told of their last phone call before
she lost all communication with her.
Adriana Urbano was returning from
her job as an office cleaner late when her
daughter Jessica rang her to say there
was a fire in their building.
Urbano said: “Jessica had been asleep
in our flat when something woke her —
I don’t know if it was the smoke or a fire
alarm — so she rang me at 1.39am as I
was on my way home from work.
“S he said, ‘Mum where are you?
Mummy come and get me’.”
Urbano said she urged Jessica to run
down the stairs of the tower block to try
to find a firefighter to lead her to safety.
“I told her to get out of there as quickly
as she could. I said, ‘Run as fast as you
can’, but then the line cut out.”
Jessica had also managed to call her
father Ramiro after fleeing from their
20th floor flat and is understood to have
made it as far as two floors further down.
Urbano and her husband — who was
visiting a friend on the third floor at the
time of the fire and was prevented by
firefighters from going upstairs to reach
his daughter — have heard nothing since
about their daughter’s whereabouts and
are hoping against hope she somehow
made it out alive.
“ We are desperate for news but we
have not heard anything,” she said. “ I’ve
got no idea what ’s happened to her. We
are so worried.” — DPA
Faulty fridge linked to tragedy
This is the mini-cab driver whose
faulty fridge is alleged to have
started the Grenfell Tower inferno,
the Daily Mail said today.
Behailu Kebede, a father of one,
raised the alarm after flames took
Maryann Adam, 41, who lived at
No 14, told how Kebede banged
on her front door in the early
hours of Wednesday to tell her that
there was a fire in his kitchen.
She said: “He knocked on the
door, and he said there was a fire
in his flat. It was exactly 12.50am
because I was sleeping and it woke
me up,” she told the Daily Mail.
“The fire was small in the kitchen.
I could see it because the flat door
was open. There was no alarm.”
Kebede’s friend Eshete Meried
said the 44-year-old taxi driver
originally from Ethiopia, escaped
the building, but was still in shock.
Speaking exclusively to Mail
On-line, Meried said: “Behailu did
raise the alarm, that is what I am
hearing. He is fine but he is not in
a position to talk about anything
right now. I understand that he in
a temporary shelter, staying with
Another friend said Kebede
had spoken to police who are
investigating the fire.
Maryam left her phone with her
belongings in her flat and has been
unable to check on other residents.
She later attended the Chelsea and
Westminster Hospital after feeling
dizzy, but was given the all-clear.
Speaking today from emergency
accommodation close to the scene
of the disaster, Kebede told of
his distress at witnessing the very
beginning of the inferno, which is
feared to have claimed more than
He told the Mail On-line: “I
am very upset ”. Asked whether
the fire started in his flat Mr
Kebede replied: “I’m busy, I’m busy.
PICTURE: Daily Mail
Struggle to identify victims
complications in trying to identify those
caught up in London’s horror fire, a
forensics specialist is warning.
Peter Vanezis, who is professor of
forensic medical sciences at Barts and
the London School of Medicine and
Dentistry, said overnight difficulties in
locating the bodies among the charred
remains will likely provide the first
hurdle for detectives.
At least 17 people are dead after
Grenfell Towers in west London was
engulfed in flames on Wednesday.
Metropolitan police commander Stuart
Cundy said some victims may remain
unidentified and warned the process
would probably take “a considerable
period of time”.
The condition of bodies — left inside
the burning 24-storey tower block for
more than 24 hours before the blaze was
extinguished — will also present added
challenges as relatives wait for news on
their loved ones.
“ Identification may take some weeks or
even months in some cases because of the
state of some of the remains and families
need to be updated as to progress on a
regular basis and supported at all times,”
Prof Vanezis said.
“ Furthermore it will probably be some
time before all victims are located due
to the sheer difficulty of firefighters
working in a building which is unsafe
and will require a meticulous search of
the debris. ” — PA
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