Police have said they may never be able to identify all of the victims killed in the Grenfell Tower fire, as they confirmed at least 17 people had died, with the number expected to rise in the coming days. Fire chiefs added that it would be a “miracle” to find anyone alive at this stage.
Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan Police said 15 people remained in critical condition and officers are working to identify and locate those who are still missing.
Specialist urban search and rescue teams are being brought in to make the 24-storey tower block safe in north Kensington to allow firefighters and the police to carry out investigations.
Search dogs will also be used to help locate the missing in the wreckage.
Mr Cundy 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."
He added: "It may be – and I just don't know – it may be that ultimately some victims remain unidentified.
"I won't know that until we've gone through the full recovery from Grenfell Tower and we know exactly what we've got and I anticipate that is going to take a considerable period of time.
"Not just the immediate recovery of the bodies we have found but the full search of that whole building we could be talking weeks we could be talking months – it is a very long process.
"There is a risk that sadly we may not be able to identify everybody."
Speaking from the scene, as family and friends of Grenfell residents continued the desperate search for information about the whereabouts of their loved ones, Mr Cundy said: "There are still a number of people who are receiving treatment in hospital.
“There are 37 people receiving treatment, of which 17 are still in critical care.
“Like we explained yesterday, our absolute priority for all of us is about identifying and locating those people that are still missing.
“It would be wrong for me to get into numbers that I do not believe are accurate.”
The flats were home to between 400 and 600 people, community leaders said.
Detective Chief Inspector Matt Bonner has been appointed to lead the investigation, Mr Cundy added.
London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said: "This will be a detailed fingertip search.
"Obviously this will be a very slow and painstaking process."
Earlier, the commissioner said: "Sadly, 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."
She added that there were still "unknown numbers" of people left in the building.
Many people are still missing and firefighters face hazardous conditions as they search the building's charred carcass.
Smoke continued to rise from the shell of the tower on Thursday morning, more than a day after fire engulfed the building in the early hours and turned it into an inferno.
Firefighters rescued 65 people from the building.
More than £1m has been raised to help those affected by the fire, while volunteers and charities helped feed and shelter 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 amid growing concerns about how the blaze could have spread so rapidly.
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