London, June 19 (IANS) The London police on Monday upgraded to 79 the tally of those believed to have died in an apartment block inferno, although only five victims had been formally identified so far.
Commander Stuart Cundy said the number could change as investigators were still not certain who all were there in the Grenfell Tower, in west London, when an intense fire tore through the 24-storey building, Efe news reported.
“Over the last 48 hours, our investigators have been working tirelessly working with families to establish just how many we believe are missing from Grenfell Tower,” he said.
Cundy said 79 people were missing, presumed dead, but it was very likely that due to the intensity of the conflagration many victims would never be formally identified.
The fire began early Wednesday and spread rapidly through the 24-storey block that housed hundreds of people.
Rescue efforts have been slow as the building was devastated by flames and many areas were not able to be accessed safely.
The police and the firefighting service have been working to stabilise parts of the structure in order to allow emergency services to continue the search for victims.
Residents had many times raised the alarm that the building was not safe and was liable to be heavily affected by a fire, however, local authorities did not act on the complaints.
The building was last year fitted with insulating cladding, but the material used is now believed to have been highly flammable and could have further inflamed the fire, helping it spread alarmingly fast throughout the building.