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London fire victims may never be identified

18 Juin 2017

A massive fire raced through the 24-story high-rise apartment buildi.

Local residents shouted angry questions when London mayor Sadiq Khan paid a visit to the area.

They believe that their longstanding concerns over fire safety at Grenfell Tower were not adequately addressed.

Dozens of people remain missing after fire rapidly engulfed the 24-story building in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Jonathan Lum, an advertising executive who lives on the 57th floor of a glittering Manhattan tower designed by Frank Gehry, said if a fire breaks out there, he will heed the wisdom of the fire department and stay in his apartment, but partly because he lives in a building constructed in the past decade. It includes 30 deaths that already have been confirmed, and reports of people who are missing and presumed to have been killed.

The royal visitors were greeted by the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, Ken Olisa, with the shell of the tower block visible in the distance behind them. Hundreds have been left homeless, putting more pressure on officials in a city plagued by a chronic housing shortage. At the very least, the survivors of the fire who have lost their homes must be consulted about where they wish to live. "And therefore, sadly, I have to assume that they are dead", he said.

The visits come amid an atmosphere of acrimony and confusion.

Fire Officer Donal Casey told a court hearing into the evacuation order that because of defects in the external walls, fire could spread through an entire block within minutes. May on Thursday announced a public inquiry, a probe used to investigate issues of major public concern.

The leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council - the authority that owns the tower block - told the BBC it would not use the type of cladding fitted to Grenfell Tower in other buildings in the borough.

The focus of criticism centres on the cladding fitted to external walls on the 1970s concrete block as part of a £8.7 million ($11 million, 9.9 million euros) refit completed previous year. They essentially consist of two thin layers of aluminum sandwiched around a lightweight insulating material.

The newspaper said Friday that Omnis Exteriors manufactured the aluminum composite material used in the cladding.

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Rydon insisted their work 'met all required building control, fire regulation and health and safety standards'. It did not address the exact makeup of the panels.

Association chairman Gary Porter says that "fire risk assessments and the construction of buildings are being reviewed and double checks are being made to ensure remedial work recommended under previous assessments have been carried out".

The government is under increased pressure after it emerged that expert reports from past year warned against the kind of cladding used in recent renovations at Grenfell Tower.

One was Gloria Trevisan, a 26-year-old Italian architect who was living in London because her family was having financial difficulties at home in Italy.

REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth Protesters walk down Ladbroke Grove in west London demanding answers over the Grenfell Tower disaster. Numerous displaced are living in churches and community centers.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince William visited the disaster site after Communities secretary Sajid Javid's visit, who promised re-housing the victims, and a thorough inquiry into the incident after experts and residents had cautioned the tower was a fire hazard.

It may take some time though, before the families of the victims know the fate of their loved ones.

Forensic experts said the fire at Grenfell was so hot it could be compared to a cremation, which is going to make it hard to identify those who lost their lives.

In a TV interview, Mrs May said the fire was "absolutely horrifying" and had been a "terrifying experience" for those affected. "Sometimes all that's left is ash".

"This fire could have been stopped a long, long time ago".

Even amid the chaos and the frustration, some found a moment to seek unity. "You have to be prepared to receive people's emotions, and not be so frightened about people", he said. "Wherever we can, we will bring people to justice if there is evidence".