At least 58 people are feared to have died in the fire that engulfed a London tower block this week, police said on Saturday, as Prime Minister Theresa May admitted that the response from the authorities had not been good enough.
With anger mounting over the government’s handling of the blaze, May met residents from the Grenfell Tower and vowed to personally oversee the recovery as protesters gathered to demonstrate in the streets around her residence for the second day.
Weakened by a botched election gamble last week, May has been criticised for her muted response to the fire and had to be rushed away from a meeting with residents on Friday under heavy police guard as protesters shouted, “Shame on you”.
“The response of the emergency services, National Health Service, and the community has been heroic,” May said in a statement. “But, frankly, the support on the ground for families who needed help or basic information in the initial hours after this appalling disaster was not good enough,” she added.
London Police Commander Stuart Cundy said the toll of 58 represented those who were missing and presumed dead from a fire that ripped through the 24-story social housing block as residents slept in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
“Sadly, at this time, 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,” he said.
If the number is confirmed, it would make the Grenfell Tower blaze the deadliest in London since World War Two. The toll had previously been put at 30.