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Grenfell Tower fire: British ministers reveal building cladding was banned under UK regulations

18 June 2017 6:52 PM
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Grenfell Tower fire: British ministers reveal building cladding was banned under UK regulations

Fifty-eight presumed dead in London fire3:57

Police say at least 58 people are likely dead after a fire in a London building, but the number could rise.

THE new exterior cladding used in a renovation on London’s Grenfell Tower may have been banned under UK building regulations, two British ministers have revealed.

As police continued their investigation into the inferno that killed at least 58 people, Trade Minister Greg Hands said the government is carrying out an “urgent inspection” of the roughly 2500 similar tower blocks across Britain to assess their safety.

Experts believe the exterior cladding, which contained insulation, helped spread the flames quickly up the outside of the public housing tower early Wednesday morning.

Some said they had never seen a building fire advance so quickly. The 24-storey tower that once housed up to 600 people in 120 apartments is now a charred ruin.

Mr Hands and Treasury chief Philip Hammond said in separate TV appearances that the cladding used on Grenfell seems to be prohibited by British regulations. Mr Hands cautioned that officials don’t yet have exact details about the renovation that ended just last year.

“My understanding is that the cladding that was reported wasn’t in accordance with UK building regulations,” Mr Hands told Sky News. “We need to find out precisely what cladding was used and how it was attached.”

Labour Party politician David Lammy demanded the government and police immediately seize all documents relating to Grenfell’s renovation to prevent the destruction of evidence that could show criminal wrongdoing.

“The prime minister needs to act immediately to ensure that all evidence is protected so that everyone culpable for what happened at Grenfell Tower is held to account and feels the full force of the law,” Mr Lammy said.

He said all records — including emails, minutes of meetings, correspondence with contractors, safety assessments, specifications and reports — must be kept intact.

“When the truth comes out about this tragedy, we may find that there is blood on the hands of a number of organisations,” Mr Lammy said.

Police Commander Stuart Cundy says police will seek criminal prosecutions if the evidence warrants.

Homeless Grenfell Tower victims will receive at least £5500 ($9200) in a Government payout, The Sun reports.

Downing Street said desperate families got £500 ($836) in cash on Sunday to be followed by a £5000 ($8300) bank transfer tomorrow — after victims told of getting just £10 ($16) a day so far.

No. 10 officials said support workers would ensure people could access the cash — including those who may not have a bank account.

A £5 million ($8.36 million) fund has been set up for emergency supplies, food and clothing.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Sunday — after attending a church service several blocks from the tower — that the fatal blaze was entirely preventable.

He said residents are “angry not simply at the poor response in the days afterwards from the council and the government, but the years of neglect from the council and successive governments.”

Frustration has been mounting in recent days as information about those still missing in the blaze has been scanty and efforts to find temporary housing for the hundreds of now-homeless tower residents have faltered.

Pop music mogul Simon Cowell has revealed he is organising a recording of Simon and Garfunkel’s hit Bridge Over Troubled Water in a bid to raise money to help those caught up in the blaze.

Emeli Sande, Stereophonics singer Kelly Jones, Rita Ora, Leona Lewis and Pixie Lott were among those taking part.

Prince William has broken royal protocol by hugging a woman whose husband went missing after the blaze.

TMZ shared a photo of the father-of-two embracing the heartbroken woman, who buried her face in his chest.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, facing criticism for the government’s handling of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, has met with 15 survivors and community leaders at her official residence at 10 Downing Street in London.

The meeting lasted more than two hours on Saturday but the group did not speak to reporters gathered outside.

The meeting is unlikely to quell complaints that Ms May has been slow to reach out to fire survivors, despite her announcement of a $6.4 million emergency fund to help displaced families. Some 600 people were living in the tower’s 120 apartments. Police say 58 people at the tower are now confirmed or presumed dead. All the rest are homeless.

Ms May said after the meeting there have been “huge frustrations” in the community as people tried to get information about the fire investigation.

She said “the support on the ground for families who needed help or basic information in the initial hours after this appalling disaster was not good enough.”

High-rise buildings will come under scrutiny from a new safety task force to be set up in NSW after the deadly inferno at London’s Grenfell Tower.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the government has been working hard behind the scenes since the London disaster to ensure residents are protected.

“We are making sure there is no stone left unturned here in NSW,” she told reporters on Sunday.

“We’ve got our agencies working with a sense of urgency about this and as soon as we can we’ll bring forward any action we need to take.”

Cheap cladding is thought to have played a part in helping the blaze spread through the London building.

Ms Berejiklian said at-risk buildings are in the process of being identified and will be dealt with as soon as possible.


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