Grenfell Tower Fire: 'Around 80 people' dead or missing say police

Credit: PA

The Metropolitan Police say they still believe that "around 80 people" are dead or missing following the Grenfell Tower fire.

This is the number of people the police previously said they believed were missing or killed in the blaze, however due to the severity of the fire the number of fatalities has been difficult to confirm.

In a statement the Met said they believe that 350 people were living in Grenfell Tower when the tragedy struck and they know that 255 escaped.

Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said they also know that 14 people were not in the tower block that night. This leaves them still at about 80 people who they believe died in the fire.

There were 129 flats in Grenfell Tower and police say they have spoken to residents from 106 of those and ascertained who was in those flats.

But they have been unable to speak to anyone from 23 of the flats.

Police say it is assumed that everyone in these 23 flats has died but "there is uncertainty" because they cannot be certain who was in these flats as there are no survivors.

However Police Commander Cundy added that the Met do not expect the figure of "around 80" people missing or dead to change by "more than single figures".

The Metropolitan police said that they had recovered ten bodies from the stairwells and communal areas such as lift shafts. Far fewer than some had speculated. Six bodies were recovered from outside the building.

Officers said that speculation that there could be between 100 and 600 people dead or missing were not going to be true.

Police added that the temperatures in the tower on the night of the fire reached 1000 degrees centigrade.

This means that some victims may not be identifiable. So far they have confirmed that 73 people are missing and they have formally identified 32 people.

The blaze spread through the 24-floor tower in the early hours of June 14, with the building's cladding suspected to be central to its spread.

Fire teams at the charred block in West London. Credit: PA

Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said they "are absolutely determined to find answers" to all the questions being asked by survivors of Grenfell. But he said that they must also be certain that these are "the right answers."

He added that it was "one of the largest and most complex investigations" ever undertaken by the Met Police outside counter-terrorism.

He said "this fire should not have happened" and added "I am absolutely determined to bring to justice to anyone responsible for this fire."

Distressing details of the recovery operation have been given. The first phase of recovery involving dogs and and bringing out identifiable body parts ended last Monday.

Now onto phase two. This involves literally sifting through the debris that remains. This is being done by experienced teams of forensic anthropologists and DVI (Disaster Victim Identification Officers)

They have divided the tower into grids and they are sifting through to find any kind of dental remains, personal items like jewellery or glasses.

But they believe that they will need to take DNA from relatives and ask them about other identifying indicators like fractures to identify bodies.

Police said at the moment 55 postmortems are underway - they are "getting progressively more difficult" and there is "a real danger that human remains may be amongst the debris."

As a result all the dust and debris once checked will be sent back to Grenfell Tower. It will then be decided at later date what to do with it.

The Met Police say they cannot put a time scale on how long the investigation might take. Credit: PA

The criminal investigation is described as "huge and complex" by Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt.

The Met Police say they cannot put a time scale on how long the investigation might take but they will be looking at "manslaughter" and "corporate manslaughter" down to fire safety breaches.

ACC Stuart Cundy said "you cannot listen to accounts of survivors and listen to the 999 calls and not want to hold someone responsible."

The longest phone call to 999 that has been listened to so far lasted 55 minutes.

The information seized so far is equivalent to two million boxes of A4 paper and the footage gathered so far is the equivalent to 5000 feature films.