Thursday, 15 June 2017

London Tower fire: Death toll hits 17, images of burnt remains and a heroic father

24-hours after the devastating fire in London's North Kensington, the death toll has risen from the initial 6 to 17 people and firefighters are still working to dampen the blaze and search for bodies.

Firefighters are carefully going through the building to search for survivors, but it's still too risky for now to try to recover them from the upper floors of the unstable tower.

Structural surveyors, Urban search and rescue specialists would inspect the building today and once it's declared safe, a full search would take place. 
London's fire commissioner Dany Cotton this morning revealed that there is "genuinely" no idea when it comes to the estimating the total number of missing people. 

She also admitted that it would be an "absolute miracle" if there was still anyone alive in the tower and that it would take "weeks" to complete a proper search with the building still unstable.
 "Tragically now we are not expecting to find anyone else alive. The severity and the heat of the fire would mean it is an absolute miracle for anyone to be left alive. Some of the internal structures are not regarded as safe at the moment, however the central core is, so my firefighters have been up to the top floor last night, they have done the initial brief search from the doorways. So although we've been up there we haven't managed to do a comprehensive search and until we can make the building safe then I really don't want to risk the safety of my firefighters at this moment in time."
These first images show the complete devastation left behind.

Blown out windows, melted kitchen tables and washing machines, and other personal belongings were completely destroyed inside the apartments.


Now lets talk about the heroic father.

Marcio Gomes, 38, saved the life of his entire family who would have otherwise died in the inferno.
He had been waiting for help to come but when after 4 hours 30 minutes of the start of the fire and firefighters still hadn't made it to the 21st floor where he lived, he knew it was up to him to save his family.

Mr Gomes wrapped his seven-month pregnant wife and their two daughters in wet towels and ushered them down the burning stairs. He said it was very dark and the fire was surging up and all around them. There were bodies strewn all over the floor but they kept going, stepping over the bodies to safety. However, when Gomes got downstairs, he discovered his eldest daughter was not with them. She had collapsed from smoke inhalation. He had to go back into the burning building, in spite of the warnings by firefighters advising him against it. He was able to find his daughter and dragged her out of the flames.

Though the fire started before 1 a.m. early on Wednesday, Gomes and his family were not aware their building was on fire until 2:30 a.m., that is over 1 hour 30 minutes since the fire started. He said he phoned 999 a number of times but was told to stay put with his family that the fire was being contained. His saving grace was that he defied their order. Gomes actually stayed till 4: 30 a.m. waiting for help but when it didn't come, he called again and was told that it would take a while before the firefighters get up to the 21st floor. Gomes decided then to take his safety and that of his family into his hands.

 He said there had been no fire alarm sounding to warn them that there was a fire. Had there been, more people would have been able to escape in time. Gomes and his family have been admitted to the hospital for smoke inhalation. His wife was placed in a medically induced coma to help save her and their unborn baby.  Narrating the incident from his hospital bed, Gomes spoke about calling 999 but getting no help from them.

He said: "I told them my wife was pregnant and that we couldn’t go down — there was too much smoke. But they wouldn’t send anyone up. By 4.30am the flames had roared up the side of the block. Fire engulfed the whole building.

Speaking of Luana, his 12-year-old daughter who was almost lost in the fire, Gomes said: "She was halfway down. She had stopped. She couldn’t move anymore and had fallen unconscious."

He also spoke of their escape, saying: "I just wrapped them all up in wet towels and sheets and said, 'There’s no turning back — we have to go'. We had to go down the stairs from the 21st floor. You couldn’t see anything. We had to step over bodies with my young daughters and my seven months pregnant wife."

People have been blaming the fire on those responsible for the safety of the building, which had been refurbished with dangerous cladding last year.

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