Number of Presumed Dead in London Fire Rises to 79


Cundy said the search and recovery operation was ongoing in the charred 24-story tower.

Irishman Dennis Murphy remains missing after he called family on the morning of the fire to say he was trapped on the 14th floor.

However, five people who were originally reported as missing have since been found safe and well where as 17 people are still being treated in London hospitals, of whom nine remained in critical care, reports CNN.

"There is also a real possibility that there may be people in the building that no-one knows are missing", he said.

The London's fire chief said it could take "days" to reach the bodies of everyone who died in the blaze.

"This is an incredible distressing time for families and they have my commitment that we will do this as quickly as we possibly can", he said.

Numerous families that were affected lost more than one relative, said Cdr Cundy, adding that his "heart went out to them". Police Commander Stuart Cundy said Saturday it will take weeks or longer to recover and identify all the dead in the public housing block that was devastated by a fire early Wednesday.

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Chancellor Philip Hammond told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show that the cladding blamed for spreading the fire was banned in the UK. Composing himself, he said "It's fair to say it is incredibly emotional working in there".

Activists had been complaining about fire safety at the tower for several years, with fears intensifying after a renovation completed last year that included new exterior cladding.

He said police had received some 70 pictures and videos of the fire from the public and urged them to send more as officers investigate the blaze. One focus is the exterior cladding used in the renovation: Senior ministers of the British government say it appears to have been banned under United Kingdom building codes.

"The response of the emergency services, National Health Service and the community has been heroic", the prime minister said in a statement.

Cundy said the police investigation by the Met will be wide ranging, looking at the construction of the building, the recent refurbishment, how it was managed and maintained, and fire safety measures.

Images have also been released by the police from inside the gutted 24-storey high rise in west London.