Sunday, 18 June 2017

58 presumed dead in London Tower fire - UK Police say

The London police has said that the death toll from the inferno at the Grenfell Tower in west London had risen to 58.

The announcement by Cmdr. Stuart Cundy, who said the toll was still expected to rise, came as Queen Elizabeth II made note of the country’s recent struggles.

“It is difficult to escape a very somber national mood,” the queen said in a statement to mark her official birthday — an occasion that typically does not result in any public comments from the monarch. “In recent months, the country has witnessed a succession of terrible tragedies.”


The fire at the 24-story public housing project broke out early Wednesday morning — after Britons had been hit with three terrorist attacks in less than three months, in London and Manchester.

The deadly blaze has mushroomed into a political crisis, testing the fragile government of Prime Minister Theresa May. Her political future — already in doubt after her Conservative Party lost its governing majority in snap elections she called — has been further questioned because of her response to the fire. Some have even referred to it as Mrs. May’s Hurricane Katrina moment.

The prime minister’s response, characterized as stilted and lacking empathy, and her failure to meet with victims during an initial visit to the site only served to amplify complaints about her leadership. When Mrs. May finally went out to meet with victims at St. Clement’s Church on Friday — one of several sites near the tower offering clothes, food and toiletries to victims and their loved ones — she was heckled with shouts of “Coward!”

Angry crowds also stormed a local government office on Friday, shouting, “We want justice” and demanding that the authorities provide an accounting of the victims, as well as support for the survivors.

Mrs. May has announced a fund of about $6.5 million for the victims. Local councils will also carry out safety checks on buildings similar to the Grenfell Tower, the prime minister said.

On Saturday, Mrs. May acknowledged that support for survivors and families of the victims “was not good enough.”

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