Grenfell tragedy: Minute’s silence marks 1st anniversary

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London, June 14 (IANS) Buildings across the United Kingdom capital were illuminated overnight and a national minute’s silence was observed on Thursday in memory of the victims of devastating Grenfell Tower fire that swept through the 24-floor residential apartment block in West London exactly one year ago.

Grenfell Tower itself and other sites, including the Prime Minister’s official residence at Downing Street and the London Eye, were lit up green overnight. Besides claiming the lives of 72 people, the blaze destroyed family homes when it swiftly gutted the tower block in the early hours of June 14, 2017.

The names of the 72 people who died in the blaze were read out at a memorial service in west London. Speaking at the service, Labour MP David Lammy said it was a “bittersweet” moment as the community celebrated their unity but mourned those lost. A vigil took place at a church near the block, the BBC reported.

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Clarrie Mendy, who lost two family members in the fire and organised the anniversary event, said: “It’s a service of healing, community, inclusivity and solidarity, to know we are not alone.”

Bishop of Kensington Dr Graham Tomlin said there was an atmosphere of “quiet dignity, a sombre mood in the air”.

Prime Minister Theresa May wrote on Twitter that she wanted to “pay tribute” to the victims’ “family, friends and loved ones for the strength and dignity they have shown”.

“1 year ago at 00:54 a fire started at Grenfell Tower. Seventy-two lives were lost because of that fire and our lives were changed forever. Forever in our Hearts,” citizens’ group Grenfell United tweeted. The 24-storey block in North Kensington had been home to some 350 people, according to the UK authorities.

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“The terrible tragedy of Grenfell Tower remains very real, raw and painful for many people, every day,” Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick said.

“The continued resilience and sense of spirit shown by the community at the heart of this tragedy is inspiring,” she said, adding: “Many of us will take time today, one year on, to think back and remember.”

The tragedy led to a crackdown on similar buildings across the country after the cladding covering Grenfell Tower’s facade was found to fall short of fire safety standards.

The anniversary came as an inquiry into the fire continued its fact-finding stage.

Member of the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign group Yvette Williams said: “We want the nation to keep Grenfell in their consciousness. “The anniversary is about love and support – the fight can start again on Friday and Saturday – and keeping that humanity going on that day.”

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