The presumed death toll from the London tower block inferno jumped to 58 on Saturday as embattled Prime Minister Theresa May, accused of misreading the growing anger over the tragedy, pledged action after meeting survivors desperately seeking answers.
Dozens of people were still missing three days after the 24-storey Grenfell Tower was engulfed in flames, and worries over the safety of the apartment block’s charred wreck has slowed the search for human remains.
Sixteen bodies have been taken to a mortuary, and the first victim formally identified was named as Mohammad Alhajali, a 23-year-old Syrian refugee.
Queen Elizabeth II said the disaster had cast a sombre pall over Britain, but insisted the country was showing resolve in the face of adversity.
But public anger has been swelling, with furious residents heckling May and storming the local authority headquarters on Friday.
They demanded justice for the victims and claimed Wednesday’s fatal blaze was due to negligence, with many citing the new cladding put on the 1974 concrete tower.
“It was a death trap, and they knew it,” one person shouted as demonstrators surged inside the offices of the Kensington and Chelsea council, responsible for managing the social housing block in a working-class enclave of one of Britain’s richest districts.
Police said Saturday that their investigation would look at the building and its 2016 refurbishment, and vowed to bring prosecutions “if there is evidence”.
“There are 58 people who we have been told were in Grenfell Tower on the night that are missing and therefore, sadly, I have to assume that they are dead,” police commander Stuart Cundy told reporters at the scene.
He said that number could change should further information come to light.
The area surrounding the tower has been plastered by distraught relatives with pictures of the missing, from grandparents to young children.
Morocco said seven of its nationals were among the dead.
May was criticized for avoiding locals when she visited the disaster site on Thursday and faced cries of “Shame on you” and “coward” when she returned the following day, with police breaking up scuffles.
On Saturday May met a group of 15 victims, residents, volunteers and community leaders at her Downing Street office. Demonstrators gathered outside, protesting about several issues including the fire.
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