Several people have died after a huge fire ripped through a west London tower block, with many residents still missing amid reports of people trapped in their homes.
Up to 600 people are believed to have been inside 120 flats in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower when the blaze began. At least 50 injured people were taken to hospital – it is unclear how many managed to get out safely.
As an investigation into the cause of the fire begins, residents reported that fire alarms had not sounded and an action group claimed their warnings of a “catastrophe” fell on “deaf ears” after highlighting safety concerns three years ago.
Residents who escaped spoke of others trapped and screaming for help, with some holding children from windows and others jumping from upper floors.
Pictures from the scene showed flames engulfing the block and a plume of smoke visible across the capital, while others showed residents looking out of windows in the block.
More than 200 firefighters were called to the block on the Lancaster West Estate, in north Kensington, at about 1.15am.
Shortly before 8am, London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton confirmed that there have been a “number of fatalities” in the “unprecedented incident”. She said the cause of the blaze was unknown.
Nick Paget-Brown, the leader of Kensington and Chelsea Borough, said “several hundred” people would have been in the block when the fire broke out. A “significant number of people” remain unaccounted for.
Actor and writer Tim Downie, who lives around 600 metres from the scene in Latimer Road, said he feared the block could collapse.
He said: “It’s horrendous. The whole building is engulfed in flames. It’s gone. It’s just a matter of time before this building collapses.”
The 1970s-built tower block was recently refurbished at a cost of £8.7 million, with work completed in May 2016 that saw the exterior “modernised” with cladding and replacement windows.
Scotland Yard said it was “likely to take some time before we are in a position to confirm the cause of the fire”.