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Council chief quits over Grenfell fire response

The charred remains of the tower block. Credit: PA

The chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea council has quit following a barrage of criticism over its response to the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy.

Nicholas Holgate said the communities and local government secretary had "required the leader of the council to seek my resignation".

He added he would have been a "distraction" if he had stayed in his post after the "heart-breaking tragedy", which left at least 79 feared dead.

Mr Holgate said there is a "huge amount" still to do for the victims "in very challenging circumstances" adding: "If I stayed in post, my presence would be a distraction."

Council leader Nicholas Paget-Brown said he accepted the resignation "with great regret" and added that "the council will now need to work in a new way with different partners to take this forward".

There have been protests calling for justice over the tragedy. Credit: AP

There has been a lot of anger over the official response to the deadly blaze from survivors and victims' families.

Theresa May has apologised for the failures by local and national government in reacting to the tragedy.

Speaking in the Commons on Thursday, she said it was right that Mr Holgate had resigned.

Yvette Williams, spokeswoman for the Justice4Grenfell campaign, agreed it was right for him to go.

"He wasn't left with any alternative," she said. "The community had been completely abandoned by the local authority."

It is thought a highly toxic gas released by insulation on the outside of the building may also have contributed to deaths.

The boards, fitted during a refurbishment of the tower, could have produced enough deadly hydrogen cyanide to fill every flat, it has been reported.

Mohammad al-Haj Ali escaped the war in Syria only to die in a fire in Britain. Credit: PA

A funeral was held on Wednesday for 23-year-old Syrian refugee Mohammad al-Haj Ali - the first person named as a victim of the disaster.

Married couple Omar Belkadi, 32, and Farah Hamdan, 31, are the latest victims to be named.

They lived on the 20th floor of Grenfell Tower with their daughters Malek, seven, Tazmin, six, and Leena, just six months old.

The two eldest daughters were found in hospital by family members but the fate of their youngest girl remains unknown.

Other victims named so far are 24-year-old art photographer Khadija Saye, Abufars Ibrahim, 39, Khadija Khalloufi, 52, and 65-year-old Anthony Disson.

The Kensington Row development where some of the survivors will be rehoused. Credit: PA

The Grenfell Tower Response Team said 249 households are in emergency accommodation in hotels and £675,000 has been handed out to families affected by the disaster.

Many will be re-homed in social housing in a luxury development around 1.5 miles from Grenfell, the City of London corporation announced.

The charity single recorded by more than 50 stars including Stormzy, Rita Ora and Liam Payne, was released on Wednesday and has already soared to the top of the download charts on iTunes.

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