Firefighters shed tears today during a minute’s silence for the victims of the Grenfell Tower blaze, as the official death toll was raised to 79.
Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said today that five people had been formally identified and the rest were ‘sadly’ missing presumed dead.
Mr Cundy said the death toll may still change, but not as significantly as it has in recent days.
There were emotional scenes at the site in north Kensington at 11am as firefighters halted work to join residents for a minute’s silence held to remember those who lost their lives and all others affected by the blaze.
The silence was also observed at Government buildings across the country.
A minute’s silence was held around the country today to remember those killed in last week’s Grenfell Tower blaze
Firefighters at the scene, who have had to pick through the tower block during the investigation, shed tears as silence fell
The police chief leading the investigation into the fire said nothing could prepare even long-serving emergency service personnel for what they were confronted with inside the tower
Firemen support each other as they gathered together in the shadow of the building where 79 people are now confirmed to have died
Firefighters with uniforms dirtied by the investigation laid down their helmets as they paused at 11am today
These are the dogs being used to search the devastated tower block for victims and information to use in the investigation
Mr Cundy told reporters the ‘awful reality’ was that it might not be possible to identify all the victims. Some families have lost more than one member, he added.
Five people who had been reported missing after the disaster have been found safe and well, he added.
Speaking outside Scotland Yard, Mr Cundy added: ‘I have investigated major crime for most of my service and I have seen some terrible things. But I don’t think anything prepared me for what I was going to see when I was in there.
‘It’s hard to describe my feelings, because I cannot imagine, and I would not want to put myself in the position of those families who have lost their loved ones.
‘But being with colleagues from the London Fire Brigade when I was in there, colleagues from the London Ambulance Service and other police officers, I think it’s fair to say it is incredibly emotional working in there.
‘But we will do it with our utmost professionalism and we will do everything we can as quickly as we can to locate everybody who is in there.’
Local residents – some still looking for those caught up in the fire – were among those who stood in silence near the scene
Many struggled to contain their emotion after a week of grief and anger over how the horrific fire could ever have happened
London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton joins firefighters and staff at Winchester House to observe the silence
Firefighters and their leaders also stood outside Manchester Community Fire Station and observed the minute’s silence
The teams and umpires observe a one minute silence in memory of the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy during Essex vs Warwickshire cricket match in Chelmsford, Essex
The city of Bradford stood still at 11am as events were held around the country in memory of the disaster’s many victims
As anger continued in the wake of the disaster, described by London Mayor Sadiq Khan as a ‘preventable accident’, the Government announced those left homeless will be given at least £5,500 from an emergency fund.
Residents will be given £500 in cash followed by a bank payment for the rest from Monday and the money will come from the £5 million fund announced by Theresa May on Friday.
While they welcomed the funding, a group of residents who met Mrs May in Downing Street at the weekend said they had not been consulted before the latest announcement, adding that it continued a ‘tendency to sideline residents’ views’.
Earlier the group, made up of survivors of the fire, evacuees from nearby buildings, volunteers and community leaders, criticised Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation for its reaction to the disaster.
In a statement to the Press Association, they said: ‘With the exception of very few junior officers, the estate managers have been invisible in the aftermath of the tragedy.’
The death toll from the Grenfell Tower fire rose to 79 today as police confirmed five of those who died in the blaze have been formally identified
Recovery workers are continuing to work through the 24-storey tower block. The police chief leading the investigation has said conditions in the tower ‘verge on indescribable’
An exercise bike stands among the rubble and charred remains of household items in one of the block’s many flats
Releasing the footage of the flats, Mr Cundy said a figure for the latest number of people presumed dead will be given on Monday.
He said: ‘The conditions due to the fire damage verge on indescribable, which is why this will be such a lengthy operation taking weeks to complete.
‘We must also prepare people for the terrible reality that some people may not be identified due to the intensity of the fire.’
Speaking after attending a church service near the tower block in west London on Sunday, Mr Khan said the local community was ‘frustrated’ and ‘angry’ in the wake of the blaze.
He said the atrocity followed ‘years of neglect from the council and successive governments’.
His remarks came as Nick Paget-Brown, the Tory leader of Kensington and Chelsea council, insisted officials were on the ground ‘very soon’ after the fire broke out following criticism from Mrs May, who said the support given to residents was ‘not good enough’.
Mr Paget-Brown sidestepped questions over whether he felt guilty about the tragedy, telling BBC Radio 4’s The World At One: ‘I feel terrible about the whole position we find ourselves in. All I’m keen to say is there is an effective, co-ordinated relief effort on the ground and I’m sorry if people haven’t seen that.’
Firefighters today left tributes at a wall set up to remember those killed in last week’s blaze
Hundreds of tributes have been left at the wall of condolence set up in the shadow of the tower
A women is tearful after looking at tributes near west London tower yesterday afternoon
Meanwhile, a company involved in the renovation of the tower was forced to deny cladding on the building was banned in the UK after comments made by Chancellor Philip Hammond.
It was reported that the material used in the cladding covering Grenfell was Reynobond PE – a cheaper, more flammable version of two available options.
Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Hammond said: ‘My understanding is the cladding in question, this flammable cladding which is banned in Europe and the US, is also banned here.’
John Cowley, managing director of CEP Architectural Facades, which produced rainscreen panels and windows for Grenfell Tower’s cladding sub-contractor Harley Facades Ltd, said: ‘Reynobond PE is not banned in the UK.
‘Current building regulations allow its use in both low-rise and high-rise structures.
‘The key question now is whether the overall design of the building’s complete exterior was properly tested and subsequently signed off by the relevant authorities including the fire officer, building compliance officer and architect before commencement of the project.’
These are the people who lived in the tower and are still missing following the blaze on Wednesday