Grenfell Tower fire: 58 people missing and presumed dead in Kensington blaze, police say

Investigators now back inside the gutted building after search paused for safety reasons

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The Independent Online

Fifty-eight people are still missing after the Grenfell Tower fire and are presumed dead, police say.

Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said the figure included the previous death toll of 30.

He told reporters on Saturday: “The current number of fatalities is at least 30. The figure of 58 are those that are missing and I have to assume are dead.

“It might be that some of those are safe and well, but for whatever reason have not wished to let us know.

“The figure of 30 which I gave yesterday is the number that I know, sadly, have at least died.

“That 58 would include that 30.

“The figure of 58 is based on what we have been told as to who was in there on the night.”

The bodies of 16 people have been recovered from the building and taken to a mortuary, he added, while the figure of 58 may rise.

Police and firefighters have now reached the top of the tower in their search.

Commander Cundy said the police investigation into the fire “will take weeks, it may take longer than that”.

He said police will release images and video from inside the tower tomorrow, pending the approval of Grenfell families.

The first victim of the disaster has been formally identified as 23-year-old Mohammed Alhajali, Commander Cundy added.

His family said in a statement released by police: “Mohammed was a very amazing and kind person. He gave love to everyone. He came to the UK because he had ambitions and aims for his life and for his family.

“Our whole family will miss Mohammed dearly and he will never be forgotten. To God we belong and to him we return.”

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Mohammed Alhajali, one of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire (Metropolitan Police)

Later on Saturday Theresa May admitted the support for families in the immediate aftermath of the fire “was not good enough”.

The Prime Minister said there had been “huge frustrations” on the ground as people struggled to find information.

She added: “The response of the emergency services, NHS and the community has been heroic.

“But, frankly, the support on the ground for families who needed help or basic information in the initial hours after this appalling disaster was not good enough.”

It came after she met victims of the blaze at Downing Street, amid criticism she had not seen them in the immediate wake of the disaster.

Responding to concerns about the speed at which the identities of the dead are being released, Commander Cundy added: “I absolutely understand the frustration of why figures haven't been released earlier.

“The reason for that – at one point, in terms of our casualty bureau, there were 400 people who were reported missing from Grenfell Tower.

“We have worked tirelessly over the last four days to truly understand those that we know were there on the night.”

The process of identifying those killed when the 24-storey building went up in flames is likely to be filled with complications and take considerable time.

Additional reporting by agencies

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