Days after a blaze tore through Grenfell Tower in London, the death toll continues to rise: City police announced Saturday that 58 people “are missing and we assumed likely to have died.”
Previously, the Metropolitan Police had confirmed 30 people had been killed in the inferno; the announcement Saturday nearly doubles that number.
“Whilst I sincerely hope that our work over the coming days means that we (will be) able to say that less people are confirmed as having died, I also have to consider the sad reality that this may rise,” Metropolitan Police Cmdr. Stuart Cundy said in a statement.
“Sadly, our work will be ongoing for many, many weeks. We know that there are still bodies of those who died inside the building and we want to return those people to their families as soon as we possibly can.
“The work to search the building is challenging, but naturally could never be done quickly enough for those currently having to live with the uncertainty of knowing where their loved ones are.”
Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth II struck a mournful tone in an address to mark her official birthday Saturday, remarking not only on the blaze at the high-rise building but also on the recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London. The U.K. was already reeling from the bombing and mass stabbing, respectively, before this week’s building inferno.
“During recent visits in Manchester and London, I have been profoundly struck by the immediate inclination of people throughout the country to offer comfort and support to those in desperate need,” the queen said in a statement.
“Put to the test, the United Kingdom has been resolute in the face of adversity. United in our sadness, we are equally determined, without fear or favour, to support all those rebuilding lives so horribly affected by injury and loss.”
As NPR’s Merrit Kennedy reported, the Grenfell Tower fire has aroused the ire of those who feel it was caused by corporate malfeasance and who feel Prime Minister Theresa May’s government is not doing enough to respond.
“Newspapers are calling May’s decision not to meet survivors the day after the blaze her ‘Hurricane Katrina’ moment,” NPR’s Frank Langfitt notes. “Some survivors have also complained the government has been painfully slow to find them places to sleep.”
“The response of the emergency services, NHS [National Health Service] and the community has been heroic,” May said in a statement released Saturday after the prime minister met with victims and community leaders.
“But, frankly, 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.”
She also noted that an emergency fund of more than $6 million has begun to be “distributed on the ground so people can buy clothes, food and other essentials.”