Sunday 20 August 2017

Fifth victim of Grenfell Tower victim named, as death toll rises to 79

Undated handout photo issued by Metropolitan Police of Anthony Disson who has been named as one of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in west London. Photo: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire
Undated handout photo issued by Metropolitan Police of Anthony Disson who has been named as one of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in west London. Photo: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire
Demonstrators hold up banners during a march in Westminster, following the fire that destroyed The Grenfell Tower block, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Demonstrators hold up banners during a march in Westminster, following the fire that destroyed The Grenfell Tower block, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Demonstrators hold up banners during a march in Westminster, following the fire that destroyed The Grenfell Tower block, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Demonstrators hold up banners during a march in Kensington, following the fire that destroyed The Grenfell Tower block, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Five victims killed in the Grenfell Tower disaster have been named, after Scotland Yard announced the death toll had risen to 79.

Mohammad Alhajali  (23), Ya-Haddy Sisi Saye, also known as Khadija Saye (24) Abufars Ibrahim (39), Khadija Khalloufi (52) and Anthony Disson (65) all lived in the 24-storey block, which was destroyed by a huge blaze last Wednesday in west London.

Undated handout file photo issued by International Curators Forum of 24-year-old artist Khadija Saye, who has been named as a victim of the Grenfell Tower fire. Photo: Daffyd Jones/PA Wire
Undated handout file photo issued by International Curators Forum of 24-year-old artist Khadija Saye, who has been named as a victim of the Grenfell Tower fire. Photo: Daffyd Jones/PA Wire

The rest are missing presumed dead, Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said on Monday.

In a statement, the family of Mr Disson said: "Our family are devastated at receiving the news that Tony sadly did not survive the fire at Grenfell Tower.

"Tony leaves behind a large family, his wife, sons and grandchildren, including one grandchild he will never get to meet.

"We miss him terribly, and are pulling together as a family and trying to stay strong under these tragic circumstances. We ask at this time that our family are left to grieve in private."

There were emotional scenes at the site in north Kensington at 11am as firefighters halted work to join residents for a minute's silence held to remember those who lost their lives and all others affected by the blaze.

The silence was also observed at government buildings across the country.

Mr Cundy said the death toll may still change, but not as significantly as it has in recent days, adding: "The awful reality is that we may not be able to identify all those that died" inside what is now a blackened and charred shell.

He fought back tears as he told reporters at New Scotland Yard about the scene inside the tower.

Footage from inside the gutted building has been released, showing the extent of the damage.

Mr Cundy said it had been "incredibly emotional working in there", adding: "On Saturday I went in myself and went to the top floor.

"And it is incredibly hard to describe the devastation in some parts of that building."

Speaking later outside Scotland Yard, he added: "I have investigated major crime for most of my service and I have seen some terrible things. But I don't think anything prepared me for what I was going to see when I was in there.

"It's hard to describe my feelings, because I cannot imagine, and I would not want to put myself in the position of those families who have lost their loved ones.

"But being with colleagues from the London Fire Brigade when I was in there, colleagues from the London Ambulance Service and other police officers, I think it's fair to say it is incredibly emotional working in there.

"But we will do it with our utmost professionalism and we will do everything we can as quickly as we can to locate everybody who is in there."

Five people who had been reported missing after the disaster have been found safe and well, he added.

Amid anger in the wake of the disaster, which was described by London Mayor Sadiq Khan as a "preventable accident", the Government announced that those left homeless will be given at least £5,500 from an emergency fund.

Residents will be given £500 in cash followed by a bank payment for the rest from Monday and the money will come from the £5 million fund announced by Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday.

Mr Cundy said police had received some 70 pictures and videos of the fire from the public and urged them to send more as officers investigate the blaze.

He would not be drawn on the specifics of the criminal investigation of the fire, including whether anyone had been arrested or raids carried out.

He said that a team of some 250 investigators were now working on the case, with a primary aim being to identify victims and inform their loved ones as soon as possible.

Mrs May was due to chair a meeting of the Grenfell Tower Taskforce on Monday afternoon to drive forward the official response to the tragedy.

Downing Street confirmed that several London boroughs had come together in a Gold Command structure to co-ordinate assistance to those affected by the disaster. The move came after the Prime Minister said that initial support on the ground was "not good enough".

Asked whether Mrs May had considered resigning following criticism of her own performance, the spokeswoman said: "These are incredibly challenging times, with a couple of terrible incidents in a week and she is leading the country through this difficult time."

Following reports that some families had been offered alternative accommodation as far away as Preston, a Number 10 spokeswoman said the PM stood by her promise that all those affected will be rehoused within three weeks either in Kensington & Chelsea or a neighbouring borough, unless they want to move elsewhere.

It is understood that some families have asked to be rehoused outside the area in order to be near relatives.

The Downing Street spokeswoman rejected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's call for empty homes near the fire scene to be requisitioned to house families, saying: "We do not support proposals to seize private property. Our focus is on rehousing people as soon as we can."

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has written to councils and housing associations across the country, asking them to check by the end of Monday whether tower blocks in their areas have been cladded using similar materials to those at the Grenfell Tower.

Councils with properties more than 59ft (18m) high with aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding must supply samples of the panels to DCLG for tests to establish whether materials in their core are combustible.

In the letter, DCLG permanent secretary Melanie Dawes said: "There has been much public concern and comment about potential flaws in the cladding that was on Grenfell Tower.

"While the exact reasons for the speed of the spread of fire have yet to be determined, we have concluded that there are additional tests that can be undertaken with regard to the cladding.

"We are therefore asking local authorities and other registered providers of social housing to identify whether any panels used in new build or refurbishment are a particular type of cladding made of ACM."

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