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London fire: At least 79 people presumed dead in Grenfell Tower inferno

"As of this morning, I'm afraid to say there are now 79 people that we believe are either dead or missing and I sadly have to presume are dead", Police Commander Stuart Cundy told reporters, shortly before a minute's silence was held across Britain at 11am local time (10:00 UTC) in remembrance of the fire's victims.

A massive fire had engulfed Grenfell Tower in North Kensington last week, killing many people and injuring several others, many of whom are in critical condition. The public is also demanding answers about how the blaze spread so quickly amid reports that the recently-renovated building's exterior paneling fueled the flames.

There now is a growing conviction among construction and fire experts that the cladding system fixed to Grenfell Tower to improve the energy efficiency and appearance of the building as part of a £8.6 million refurbishment helped spread the fire.

"Family liaison officers are supporting families, and that includes those people we know to be dead; some of those who are crucially ill and sadly those people who we have been told were in Grenfell Tower that night who we have been unable to trace".

"Everything possible will be done to help them", the prime minister said of the victims in a statement. He says it will take weeks or longer to recover and identify all the dead at the building. One opposition lawmaker urged the Conservative government and police to immediately seize all documents related to the tower renovation.

For example, the cladding used in Grenfell Tower was chosen precisely because it was cheaper than non-flammable alternatives; despite the considerable safety issues attached with using less expensive but flammable cladding, the choice was still made to go ahead with it because that was the most cost-effective option.

The inquiry should not leave local people with any sense that they've been "short-changed, or that there has been a cover-up or whitewash", he said, adding that those who need legal representation should get adequate funding for it.

He said it had been "incredibly emotional working in there ..."

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May admitted that support for families in the "initial hours" was "not good enough".

Officials are using dental records, fingerprints, DNA samples, tattoos and scars to try and positively identify victims.

May said she expected to announce the name of the judge for a public inquiry within a few days.

The tragedy has provoked a huge response from nearby communities. British officials have ordered a review of other buildings that have had similar renovations. More than 3 million pounds ($3.8 million) have been raised for the victims.

Anger flared in the Kensington community over the weekend - with many protests taking place across the capital - as some accused the authorities of withholding information and responding inadequately.

Two Underground lines near the fire area were partially shut down on Saturday to make sure that debris did not land on the tracks.

After a turbulent three months which has seen Britain hit by three deadly Islamist militant attacks and now the tower blaze, Queen Elizabeth said the mood was deeply sombre but that the British people were resolute in the face of adversity.



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