International Diplomat Magazine

London fire death toll reaches 17

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London fire death toll reaches 17
London fire death toll reaches 17

(London) – London firefighters, traumatised by the devastation they witnessed in a high-rise apartment blaze that killed at least 17 people, worked Thursday to make the building safe so they could continue the search for more victims.

Entire families are missing, and the death toll is certain to rise after flames tore through the 120-unit Grenfell Tower in the early hours of Wednesday when most people were asleep. Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said it would be a “miracle” if anyone else were to be found alive.

It is unsafe for firefighters to go to all parts of the 24-story tower, so the fire department is working with structural engineers to shore up the building so they can complete a “finger-tip search” of the entire structure, Cotton said.

Some residents threw a baby and other children out the window to escape the flames. There were other reports of adults jumping.

“I spoke to one of my officers who was very near when someone came out the window, and he was in tears and he is a professional fire officer,” Cotton told Sky News.

“We like to think of ourselves as ‘rough, tough’ and heroes they are heroes but they have feelings, and people were absolutely devastated by yesterday’s events.” More than 200 firefighters worked through the night and parts of the building were still seen as being unsafe.

Now that the smoke has cleared, the public could only gape at the huge burned-out hulk in the working class, multi-ethnic neighbourhood.

The blaze in west London’s North Kensington district also injured 74 others, 18 of them critically, and left an unknown number missing. Cotton said that specialist dogs would be brought into search the building.

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