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Theresa May orders full public inquiry into Grenfell Tower fire as death toll rises

PUBLISHED: 11:23 15 June 2017 | UPDATED: 14:10 15 June 2017

Smoke billows from a fire that engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London.  Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Smoke billows from a fire that engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

The death toll from a devastating fire in a London block of flats is now 17, and that number is expected to rise as investigators trawl through the wreckage.

Emergency service responders and local people at a cordon surrounding the fire at Grenfell Tower. Picture: Rick Findler/PA WireEmergency service responders and local people at a cordon surrounding the fire at Grenfell Tower. Picture: Rick Findler/PA Wire

Thirty-seven people are still in hospital, 17 of whom are in critical care, following the blaze at Grenfell Tower in north Kensington in the early hours of yesterday.

Theresa May has ordered a full public inquiry into the “terrible tragedy”, echoing calls from London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for answers.

During a visit to the scene, Mr Corbyn said the “truth has got to come out and it will”.

The block contains 120 flats, thought to be home to between 400 and 600 people, with many still unaccounted for.

Giving an update this morning, Commander Stuart Cundy, of the Metropolitan Police, said: “Sadly I can confirm that the number of people who have died is now 17.

“We do believe that that number will sadly increase.”

Detective Chief Inspector Matt Bonner has been appointed to lead the investigation, he added.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said: “This will be a detailed fingertip search.

“Obviously this will be a very slow and painstaking process.”

Nearly £1 million has been raised to help those affected by the tragedy.

Volunteers and charities helped to support people who could not return to their homes overnight.

A wall of condolence was put up near the scene with photographs showing dozens of messages left for loved ones.

Prime Minister Theresa May has promised a “proper investigation” after the building went up in flames early on Wednesday morning amid growing concerns about how the fire could have spread so rapidly.

Speaking in Downing Street, Mrs May said: “When it’s possible to identify the cause of this fire, then of course there will be proper investigation and if there are any lessons to be learnt they will be, and action will be taken.”

Residents’ groups have claimed they voiced concerns about the safety of the building, which had been recently refurbished, while those who escaped complained their fire alarms had not been set off by the blaze.

Rydon, the firm that carried out the refurbishment work, said the project “met all required building regulations”, in its latest statement following the fire.

Meanwhile, work is continuing to tackle “pockets of fire” in the block, with several residents reporting one man had said it started in his faulty fridge.

Witnesses described hearing screams for help from people trapped on the upper floors of the block as flames engulfed the building.

Children and a baby were seen being thrown out of the windows to be caught by emergency workers and members of the public below.

London Fire Brigade rescued 65 people.

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