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London tower fire: 6 dead, Pinoys among injured

15 Juin 2017

A huge fire engulfed a 27-storey block of flats in central London on Wednesday, injuring at least 30 people and possibly trapping some residents who were sleeping inside the towering inferno. Others said they could see people inside using flashlights and mobile phones to try to signal for help from higher floors.

London police commander Stuart Cundy said the number of fatalities was likely to rise.

The tower block, more than 40 years old, had been given a facelift costing more than 10 million US dollars just a year ago.

"The large-scale works included the installation of insulated exterior cladding, new double glazed windows and a new communal heating system", it said. The whole building is engulfed in flames.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared the fire a "major incident".

Residents of the block who had left during the fire were being urged to make themselves known to the authorities so it was known they were safe.

London Ambulance Service says 50 people have been taken to five hospitals following a major fire in a high-rise residential building.

They are continuing to work tirelessly to rescue people still trapped inside the building as smoke continues to billow out of the upper floors. "Half of the building was ablaze by the time we got out".

The local council of Kensington and Chelsea, which owns the block, said it was focusing on supporting the rescue and relief operation.

Boutrig said her friend's brother, wife and children lived in the building and that her friend was waiting to find out if they were OK.

"Forty fire engines and over 200 firefighters and officers have been called to a tower block fire on the Lancaster West estate in north Kensington this morning. It was horrendous", Khadejah Miller, who was evacuated from her home nearby, told AFP.

Survivors also said they received orders from emergency workers to stay in their apartments, a standard fire procedure but one that angry residents said was the wrong thing to do this time. "We saw a lot. How can you forget that?"

Turufat Yilma, who managed to escape, told CNN there was "no fire alarm at all".

Samira Lamrani, a witness, said one woman dropped a baby from a window on the ninth or 10th floor to people on the sidewalk.

Grief turned to anger as firefighters continued to battle one of London's biggest fire disasters in recent memory and leaders faced questions about possible fire safety violations. Fire chiefs said it was too early to speculate on the cause of the blaze.

The building is still on fire in some places and many people remain unaccounted for.

The tower block was recently refurbished at a cost of £8.7 million, with work completed in May past year. The refurbishment cost £8.7 million ($11 million, 9.9 million euros) and was completed in May 2016.

Residents said they had warned repeatedly over fire safety in the block.

The first London Fire Brigade crews arrived at the scene in about six minutes, officials said.

He added: "We meet regularly with the LFB on operational fire safety issues to ensure our processes and advice are up to date".

London tower fire: 6 dead, Pinoys among injured