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Grenfell Tower fire has claimed at least 12 lives, 18 critical, 9 missing

Grenfell Tower fire has claimed at least 12 lives, 18 critical, 9 missing

HERE'S WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR:

  • Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan Police confirmed there have been 12 fatalities in the fire.
  • 68 people were taken to six hospitals for treatment. 10 people made their own way to hospital. 18 are in critical care.
  • Nine people are reported to be missing.
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs confirms that it has no information that any Irish citizens have been caught up in the incident.
  • More than 20 ambulance crews were sent to the scene, London Ambulance Service said.
  • 40 engines containing more than 200 firefighters attended the scene.
  • The fire was burning from the second to the top floor.
  • The cause of the fire is not yet clear.
  • Grenfell Tower is a 24-storey block that was built in 1974 and contains 120 homes.

Update 9.16pm: Dozens of people have gathered for a vigil in the shadow of the Grenfell Tower.

Many were moved to tears after a moment of silent contemplation outside the Notting Hill Methodist Church in west London.

The Rev Mike Long invited those present to light candles to place on the steps of the church on Wednesday evening.

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He then played Amazing Grace on his flute as members of the crowd sang along.

He said: "There are times when all the words we can say are not adequate and sometimes words fail us because no words can do justice to how we feel, or what we have seen or what has happened. Today is one of those days.

"What we can simply do is look to all that we have seen today which is good, which is fabulous - people getting together."

He added: "Let light triumph over all that is rotten, that is desperate and that defies our understanding."

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Meanwhile, four more people have been reported missing.

Rania Ibrham

Believed to be a mother of two small children, Rania Ibrham, 30, uploaded a harrowing Facebook Live video as she appeared to be stuck at the top of the tower block, and has not been heard from by friends since.

In the footage, she can be seen seeking help in the smoke-covered corridor of the block before going back into her home and looking down on the street below from her balcony.

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Friend Rahmana Rashid posted a picture of her and two young girls on Facebook saying: "Rania Ibrham my friend is missing from the grenfill tower, if you have seen her or have any news on her pls contact me."

Another friend, named only as Maseen, told the MailOnline: "My friend, Ranya Ibrahim, lives on the top floor with her two children who are just three and five years old."

"I received a Snapchat video from Ranya at 3am just after the fire started and I haven't heard from her since," she added.

"She lives on the top floor and her husband was not home because he is on holiday."

Hesham Rahman

Noha Baghdady shared a picture of her brother Hesham Rahman, 57, across a number of platforms, saying he lived on the 20th floor of the tower block and had not heard any news since the fire broke out.

She said her nephews were "currently searching hospitals" and added: "I'm feeling so helpless all we can do is pray he is safe and well."

According to Sky News, Mr Rahman's last contact with his family was at around 3am when he told them he could smell smoke.

It was also reported that Mr Rahman has diabetes, making it difficult for him to walk down stairs.

Dennis Murphy

Stevan Racz shared a post seeking information about his uncle Dennis Murphy, whom he said had called while trapped on the 14th floor of the building.

"We haven't heard anything since. Can anyone with any information contact me please," he said.

One commenter on another post seeking Mr Murphy wrote: "I've been around asking everyone, going to the centres, no one's seen him."

Mohamed Neda

A friend of missing Mohamed Neda, Ariana Neumann Rodger, posted on Facebook that "his family are severely injured and in hospital and desperate to find out where he is".

Zia Popal, who described Mr Neda as his uncle, also posted on the social network and said: "He was on the top floor of the building trying to help (people) and went missing since.

"If anyone has links with emergency services please take a look at his photos and pass them on just in case anyone has spotted him.

"We have already been to all (the five) major hospitals but they do not have him registered."

Earlier:
Twelve people have died and more are feared dead after a huge fire destroyed a tower block in west London.

Flames tore through the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in north Kensington overnight, leaving people trapped on upper floors - some holding babies out of windows and others jumping from their flats.

Some bodies have been removed from the smouldering remains of the building, which contains 120 flats thought to be home to between 400 and 600 people.

Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan Police said: "Sadly I can confirm that there are now 12 people that have died that we know of.

"This is going to be a long and complex recovery operation and I do anticipate that the number of fatalities will sadly increase beyond those 12."

Fire crews are continuing to tackle "pockets of fire" in the building with many people still unaccounted for.

Steve Apter, director of safety and assurance at London Fire Brigade, said: "I can confirm I have had firefighters manage to get through particularly arduous conditions up to the top floor."

London Fire Brigade said it had rescued 65 people from the building.

Mr Cundy added: "Whilst we may have accessed every floor that is not the same as a full search of the whole building, and as I said while we currently sadly have 12 fatalities, I do believe that figure will rise and sadly I don't anticipate that there will be further survivors."

NHS England said 74 patients were treated in six hospitals across London. Thirty four patients remain in hospital including 1 8 who are in critical care.

There have been calls for a major investigation amid questions about how the fire spread so rapidly through the block.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton earlier told reporters: "This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale."

Prime Minister Theresa May was said to be "deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life" and newly appointed police and fire minister Nick Hurd will chair a meeting of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat to co-ordinate the response.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said "searching questions" need to be asked about what happened, suggesting spending cuts could have contributed to the deadly fire.

He said: "If you deny local authorities the funding they need, then there is a price that's paid."

Built in 1974, Grenfell Tower was recently refurbished at a cost of £8.6 million, with work completed in May last year.

Rydon, the firm that carried it out, said its work "met all required building control, fire regulation, and health and safety standards".

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "There will be a great many questions over the coming days as to the cause of this tragedy and I want to reassure Londoners that we will get all the answers."

Nick Paget-Brown, leader of Kensington and Chelsea Borough, said: "Clearly, looking further ahead there needs to be a full investigation into the cause of this fire, why it started and why it appears to have spread so rapidly."

London Fire Brigade said the cause of the fire is still being investigated, but several residents reported one man had said it started in his faulty fridge.

Witnesses said the fire spread rapidly and traumatic accounts have emerged of the desperate attempts made by residents to flee the flames.

Samira Lamrani said she saw a woman try to save a baby by dropping it from a window ''on the ninth or 10th floor'' to waiting members of the public below.

Tiago Etienne, 17, heard people pleading for help as the building was engulfed in flames.

She said: "I saw children being thrown out of the building from as high as about the 15th floor. They were young - aged probably between four and eight. I saw three thrown out.

"I think they were being thrown out for the firefighters or police to catch, but I couldn't see from where I was who was at the bottom and what they were catching them in."

Local councillor Judith Blakeman, who lives opposite the tower, rushed outside when she heard about the blaze at 5am.

She said: "Neighbours had been watching it all night, they said the cladding went up like a nightdress by a fire - it just went whoosh."

Residents who escaped complained there had been no fire alarm, with many relying on neighbours to wake them as the blaze spread, and said official advice in the event of a fire had been to stay inside.

Michael Paramasivan, who was in his seventh floor flat with girlfriend Hannah West, 23, and her daughter Thea, five, said: "If we'd listened to them and stayed in the flat we'd have perished."

A residents' action group said its warnings about safety had fallen on "deaf ears".

A blog post from Grenfell Action Group in November said "only a catastrophic event" would expose the concerns residents had.

The group said there was one entry and exit to the tower during improvement works and it had issues with evacuation procedures.

Mr Paramasivan, 37, told the Press Association: "There were explosions everywhere you looked, lots of bangs, blue gas coming out everywhere you looked.

"About 12 floors up I saw three children waving from a window and then there was just an explosion and they disappeared.

"They were three kids, they were banging on the windows, you could see their silhouettes and then bang, it just went up."

Flowers had been placed beside the taped-off police cordon, which was being guarded by uniformed officers.

Attached to a mixed bouquet was a card with the message: "Love and prayers to the families and victims. Justice has to be done. People before money. RIP."

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