London residential tower on fire; Six dead, several missing

RSTV Bureau
London : In this photo taken from aerial video, smoke rises from a high-rise apartment building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. A massive fire raced through the 27-story high-rise apartment building in west London early Wednesday, sending at least 30 people to hospitals, emergency officials said. AP/PTI

London : In this photo taken from aerial video, smoke rises from a high-rise apartment building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. A massive fire raced through the 27-story high-rise apartment building in west London early Wednesday, sending at least 30 people to hospitals, emergency officials said. AP/PTI

A massive fire engulfed a 24- storey residential tower in London early on Wednesday morning. Six people are said to be dead and several others are said to be missing.

Latest reports suggest that many people are still trapped in their homes in Grenfell Tower and more than 250 firefighters are battling the blaze to rescue those trapped in the skyscraper.

The fire at the tower on the Lancaster West Estate in Latimer Road was reported at around 1 am in the night and about 600 people are believed to have been inside the tower’s 120 flats
when the blaze ripped through the building.

“I can confirm six fatalities at this time but this figure is likely to rise during what will be a complex recovery operation over a number of days,” said Commander Stuart Cundy, of the Metropolitan Police.

People screamed for help as the fire took hold of the building. Some residents were seen using bedsheets to make their escape from the tower block.

“It has burned through to its very core. It looks very bad, very very bad. I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s just such a big fire. The whole building is just crumbling. It’s just billowing black smoke,” an eyewitness told the BBC.

Firefighters rescued “large numbers”, but London Mayor Sadiq Khan said “a lot” of people were unaccounted for.

London : Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 24th floor of the building.AP/PTI

London : Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they’re continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 24th floor of the building.AP/PTI

“This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale,” London Fire Brigade chief Dany Cotton told reporters.

Stuart Crighton, London Ambulance Service assistant director of operations, said: “We have sent a number of resources to the scene including our hazardous area response team and over 20 ambulance crews.

“Our priority (is) to get people to safety and ensure they receive the medical help as quickly as possible,” Crighton added.

The area around Grenfell Tower is home to a large number of Muslims. Many were awake at the time the fire broke out having their early morning meal before beginning the daily fast for the holy month of Ramzan.

London  : and flames rise from building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.AP/PTI

London : and flames rise from building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they’re continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.AP/PTI

“There was smoke everywhere, literally everywhere….people screaming….People were still sleeping on the higher floors, they didn’t have a clue what was going on. I’m not even sure if half of them got out to be honest with you…there were kids out the window,” said David Benjamin, a resident of the Tower.

Another resident, Zoe, who lives on the fourth floor, said she was woken by a neighbour banging on her door. “The whole landing was thick with smoke. The smoke alarms weren’t going off but the way it spread so quickly from the fourth floor, all the way up to the 23rd floor was scary,” she said.

(With inputs from agencies)