London highrise fire: 58 missing, presumed dead, police say

Theresa May Grenfell Tower

SKY NEWS Theresa May faced tough questions over her Government's handling of the blaze

Fifty-eight people who were in London's Grenfell Tower are still missing and are presumed to be dead, United Kingdom police announced on Saturday, raising the death toll in an inferno earlier this week that turned the public housing block into a charred ruin.

British authorities are launching a criminal investigation into the London apartment building fire - as the death toll from the blaze has almost doubled, to 30.

Faith leaders in London have called for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire to be rehoused in decent housing rather than sent to "cheaper places far from London".

The investigations at Grenfell Tower have led police to believe the "number of people missing, but as yet unaccounted for" has risen from 58, the Metropolitan Police said.

Cundy said there may have been people in the tower that police are not aware of, which would add to the death toll.

Previously, the Metropolitan Police had confirmed 30 people had been killed in the inferno; the announcement Saturday almost doubles that number.

Mrs May was rushed away from a meeting with residents of the building on Friday under heavy police guard as protesters shouted "Shame on you", and hundreds stormed a local town hall calling for justice.

After a turbulent three months which has seen three militant attacks and now the tower blaze, Queen Elizabeth said "it is hard to escape a very sombre national mood", in a message on her official birthday. Stuart Cundy told reporters on Saturday, adding that the figure could change.

"The fire at Grenfell Tower was an unimaginable tragedy for the community, and for our country".

A group of victims who met with Theresa May on Saturday held a two-hour talk with the Prime Minister and were said to have passionately described their needs in light of shortcomings in the relief operation so far.

On Saturday she met with residents and community leaders in Downing Street to listen to their concerns.

This latest figure, based on reports from the public, included the 30 already confirmed to have died in the fire in west London early Wednesday. "We were seeking a change to the building regulations for that very objective", he added. "Sadly, we do not expect any survivors".

Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: "Fire risk assessments and the construction of buildings are being reviewed and double checks are being made to ensure remedial work recommended under previous assessments have been carried out".

She also pledged 5 million pounds ($6.39 million) of support, housing guarantees and help with access to bank accounts and cash. Community groups have said that warnings about poor fire safety have always been ignored, and that in the aftermath of the disaster, officials failed to immediately take care of those affected.

The cause of the blaze, the worst in the British capital in a generation, was being investigated.

That is despite charitable donations exceeding £3million, and the Prime Minister pledging £5million through an emergency fund.

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