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Fears, frustrations grow as death toll in London building fire rises

19 Juin 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May faced mounting criticism on Friday for not meeting the survivors of a deadly London tower block blaze, ratcheting up the pressure as she tries to strike a deal to stay in power after a botched election gamble. He vowed that police would "get to the answer of what has happened and why", adding: "If criminal offences have been committed, it is us who will investigate that". Dozens of them burst into the foyer, where police formed a cordon to stop them going upstairs, BBC footage showed. They had to be protected from their clients by bulletproof glass.

As the long and complex process of identifying victims and recovering bodies continues, the death toll has been revised with warnings it will continue to rise. He said: "They need some interim answers before any public inquiry comes to conclusions".

On the figure of 58, he said: "I really hope it won't, but it may increase", while adding that "it might be that some of those are safe and well", and for some reason, had not yet made themselves known to the police.

There were also indications that political groups were joining protests that were spreading beyond those immediately affected by the fire.

Protesters gathered around Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall on Friday as anger boiled over in London after claims that earlier renovation work may have been responsible for the dramatic spread of the blaze.

Later, protesters marched from the Department for Communities and Local Government in Marsham Street, Westminster, through Parliament Square and on to Whitehall and then Downing Street.

Police stopped them proceeding any further with metal barriers and uniformed officers forming a line at the front of the demonstration. They then moved up to Trafalgar Square, and mingled with tourists and office workers drinking in the sunshine outside pubs.

Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by grandson Prince William, paid a visit to the Grenfell Tower this morning where the number of missing is estimated to be around 76.

Told there was a need for the public to hear her say something had gone badly wrong and the Government accepted responsibility, Mrs May said: "Something bad has happened". May had been criticized for refusing to meet any residents or their families during a Thursday visit to the site, reportedly due to "security concerns".

May who has promised £5 million ($6.4 million, 5.7 million euros) for emergency supplies, food and clothing, has also announced a judge-led inquiry into the disaster. But in the intervening days, the fire, which swept through the 24-story Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, has come to symbolize everything that is wrong with the country and its awkward prime minister.

In a written response, a council spokesman said: "We plan to house residents of Grenfell Tower as locally as we can". "These were hard conversations with a tight-knit community that is understandably distraught, frustrated and increasingly angry".

Separately, hundreds of protesters stormed the local town hall chanting: "We want justice".

Critics say a much-needed review of fire safety rules had languished under Mr Barwell's watch.

The man said: "Why are Sadiq Khan and Corbyn coming down here to speak to people and Theresa May is coming here with police, walking around, not meeting no-one, not meeting families?"

Fears, frustrations grow as death toll in London building fire rises