Grenfell Tower fire: Sadiq Khan confronted by angry residents during visit to fire-ravaged tower

'Someone needs to be held accountable. These deaths could have been prevented,' shouts resident

May Bulman
Thursday 15 June 2017 18:13 BST
Mayor Sadiq Khan heckled during press conference at Grenfell Tower

An angry crowd has confronted Sadiq Khan on the scene of the Grenfell Tower disaster, demanding answers and urging that the community cannot wait a year for an independent inquiry.

The London Mayor was repeatedly interrupted by frustrated residents as he spoke on live TV on the site of the burnt out building, where at least 17 people died and scores were injured when a fierce blaze ripped through it in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

He began the press conference by saying: “Understandably, residents are very angry and concerned and have genuine questions that demand answers,” but a resident chimed in, saying: “Someone needs to be held accountable. These deaths could have been prevented.”

Mr Khan later commended the local response to the atrocity, before the same female resident chimed in again, saying: “But you can’t say the same for the authorities. We've seen nobody.”

The Mayor then said: “As you can see the residents are, understandably, very angry.”

He welcomed Prime Minister Theresa May's call for a public enquiry, but said the Government must go further by producing an interim response and an inquest this summer.

“While I welcome the call from the Prime Minister for an independent public enquiry, we need answers now, and that’s why I’m calling on the judge who conducts the enquiry to make sure there’s an interim response this summer," he said.

“We cannot afford to wait for a number of years, either for the enquiry or for the inquest, and that’s why it’s important that there’s a response this summer."

The resident interjected again as he made the announcement, emphasising the urgency, saying: “Now. Not a year from now, not two years from now. We need it now.”

When given the chance to ask a direct question, the woman demanded to know whether residents would be re-housed in the area, to which the Mayor responded: “That’s one of the things I’ve asked of the council.

"And one of the things the Government has reassured me is that anyone local who needs to be re-housed will be re-housed locally.”

As Mr Khan urged that checks must be undertaken on all apartment blocks, another resident shouted: “Jeremy Corbyn’s been saying that for ages. Why didn’t you support him Mr Khan? Why didn’t you support Mr Corbyn Mr Khan?”

After being confronted by angry residents, the Mayor told reporters he shared their desire for answers, saying: "Many are angry and heartbroken after losing loved ones. They are justifiably angry and I share their anger."

The blaze that ripped through Grenfell Tower on Wednesday morning is confirmed to have killed at least 17 people, but the number is expected to rise "considerably".

Met Police Commander Stuart Cundy announced earlier that the search may take months and said he hoped the death toll would not be in “triple figures”.

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