Grenfell Tower fire: 87 discoveries of human remains found in gutted block of flats, reveals Met Police

Met Commander admits full search by hand will take ‘many months’ despite 250-strong team

Jon Sharman
Wednesday 05 July 2017 12:01
There are 23 flats whose occupants the Met has been unable to trace
There are 23 flats whose occupants the Met has been unable to trace

A total of 87 discoveries of human remains have been made at Grenfell Tower, police have revealed.

The Metropolitan Police said on Wednesday its investigators had made 87 “recoveries”, but was quick to stress this did not mean they had found 87 people due to the “catastrophic damage” inside the block.

Commander Stuart Cundy said: “Until formal identification has been completed to the coroner’s satisfaction I cannot say how many people have now been recovered.”

The last visible human remains were extracted on Monday, and 21 people have been formally identified by the coroner and their families informed.

Some 250 specialists are combing through the wrecked tower by hand, Mr Cundy added, and they will sort through more than 15 tonnes of debris per floor.

He added: “This will take us many months, but we will search each and every flat.

“We will use all the information we have, especially what we have been told by survivors and families, to prioritise our search where we believe we may find more human remains.

“We are absolutely determined to do all we can as quickly as we can to return all those who are in Grenfell Tower to their loved ones.

“However, as I’ve said before, such is the devastation caused by the fire it may be that tragically we cannot find or identify all those who lost their lives.

“On Monday, we forensically recovered the last of the visible human remains from Grenfell Tower and transferred them to Westminster Mortuary.”

Mr Cundy said: “I do not want there to be any hidden victims of this tragedy. We continue our work to build as full a picture as possible of who was inside Grenfell Tower on the night and, importantly, those who lost their lives. I completely understand the desire for clarity.”

Speculation has swirled regarding the number of dead and campaigners, including Labour MP David Lammy, have claimed the toll could be significantly higher than the 80 currently presumed killed.

There are 23 flats, spread across floors from the 11th to the 23rd, whose occupants the Met has been unable to trace.

Commander Cundy said he did not know how many people may have been inside those flats on the night of the fire.

Also on Wednesday it was announced a government task force would help run Kensington and Chelsea council and support residents.

The move, which follows heavy criticism of the council’s response to the disaster, stops short of demands from London Mayor Sadiq Khan for ministers to appoint external commissioners to take over the running of the whole borough.

In a written statement to MPs, Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, said the task force would be made up of “experienced and senior people with a track record in delivery” – including from local government – and would report directly to him.

While it will consider all aspects of the recovery operation, he said it would have a special focus on housing, regeneration and community engagement.

Additional reporting by agencies

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