London fire death toll reaches 17
LONDON: More bodies were found on Thursday in the fire-ravaged apartment block in west London, raising the death toll to 17, the Metropolitan Police said.
Commander Stuart Cundy said the number was expected to rise and that an unknown number of people were missing, Efe news reported. Seventeen of the 37 people still hospitalized remained in critical condition.
"Our absolute priority is about locating and identifying those people that are still missing," he said, although he was not able to specify how many people were unaccounted for.
Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said specialist search and rescue teams would be working to make the building safe for firefighters and police to enter and begin search for and identify people who may have been in the building when the fire erupted early on Wednesday.
Teams would be preceded by sniffer dogs who could search dangerous areas faster. "This will be a very slow and painstaking process," she said.
Firefighters worked overnight at the scene of the devastating fire that gutted the 24-storey Grenfell Tower.
Cotton earlier told Sky News they were not expecting to find anyone else alive and it would be an "absolute miracle" if anyone were found still living, given the "severity and the heat of the fire".
Prime Minister Theresa May visited the scene of the fire on Thursday and spoke to police and firefighters there.
The tower block housed 120 apartments.