Monday, 21 August, 2017

12 dead in London high rise fire

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell.   Reuters Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell. Reuters
Wilma Wheeler | 15 June, 2017, 01:55

A huge fire engulfed a 27-story block of flats in central London on Wednesday injuring a number of people and possibly trapping some residents inside the towering inferno.

Witnesses described people leaping from the building and of trapped children banging on windows as the fire broke out at around 1 a.m. local time, while people slept.

"We could hear people screaming, "help me, help me", and flashing their phone lights to let people know they were there".

We could do nothing and we could see the stuff on the side was falling off, collapsing.

"I saw three people putting sheets together to climb down, but no one climbed down". It wouldn't be helpful to speculate on that until they have got to the bottom of it. In all, five people were taken to area hospitals, including the suspect, Alexandria police said.

Expressing his heartfelt sympathy to those who have been affected by the tragedy in London, UUP MLA Andy Allen said: "With a number of tower blocks in Belfast recently refurbished or now undergoing refurbishment, I have contacted the Northern Ireland Housing Executive so people can be assured that any materials used for the cladding, insulation and general renovation of tower blocks do not present a fire hazard".

Flames spread between the second and 24th floors as emergency services struggled to keep the fire under control - leaving at least six dead. London fire commissioner Dany Cotton said there had been a number of deaths, and that the incident was unprecedented in her 29-year career.

Mike Penning, a member of British Parliament who is a former firefighter, said "cladding was clearly spreading the fire".

One resident of the tower, Michael Paramasivan, said he was watching TV as his girlfriend and daughter slept, next to his sleeping girlfriend when he smelled burning plastic. Flumes of black and gray smoke were billowing high into the air over London hours after the blaze was sparked.

As dawn breaks, flames continue to leap from every window as over 200 firefighters from across London fought to tackle a blaze.

"The more I looked up, floor upon floor". She left with all six of them. When she got downstairs there was only four of them with her. "She is now breaking her heart", Michael Paramasivan, a block resident, told BBC radio.

The London Fire Brigade said the cause of the fire is still unknown.

Brighton and Hove City Council said it will review fire safety in council-owned housing stock, and there are already plans for two further sprinkler systems to be installed.

Firefighters rescued many people and are still trying to put the fire out in the 24-storey block 12 hours on.

The block had recently undergone an STG8.7 million ($A14.6 million) refurbishment of the exterior, which included new external cladding, replacement windows and curtain wall facades.

They say she was on the 19th floor Grenfell tower.

It is unclear how many people were inside the building when the fire broke out, but the tower comprises around 130 flats and houses more than 200 people, according to United Kingdom media reports.

A local residents association had previously warned it was anxious about the risk of a serious fire in the block.

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