UK Police Detail Painstaking Search for London Fire Remains - NBC Connecticut
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UK Police Detail Painstaking Search for London Fire Remains

Police and forensic anthropologists plan to sift through 15 metric tons (17 tons) of debris on each of the building's floors

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    Fire swept through a high-rise apartment building in west London early Wednesday, June 14, 2017, killing an unknown number of people and sending dozens to hospitals. More than 200 firefighters battled the flames, which engulfed the 24-story building.

    (Published Wednesday, June 14, 2017)

    British police on Wednesday described the painstaking work of recovering remains from a burnt-out London high-rise, as they tried to reassure grieving families that everything possible is being done to identify and retrieve the dead.

    Police say at least 80 people died in the June 14 fire at Grenfell Tower, but only 32 victims have formally been identified. Detectives say it will take months to identify all the victims, and the agonizing wait has provoked anger and dismay from victims' families.

    Four weeks after the blaze, some residents of the public housing tower question the official death toll, insisting the true number is higher than 80. Many also complain of agonizing delays in getting information and assistance and in finding new places to live.

    Sgt. Alistair Hutchins, a member of the Metropolitan Police's disaster victim identification unit, said officers are carrying out a methodical search of the 24-story tower block, working on their hands and knees with shovels and sieves to retrieve fragments of bone or teeth that can be used to identify victims.

    Firefighters Battle London Apartment Blaze

    [NATL] Firefighters Battle London Apartment Blaze

    Firefighters battled a blaze that broke out in a 24-story London apartment building Tuesday night.

    (Published Wednesday, June 14, 2017)

    Police and forensic anthropologists plan to sift through 15 metric tons (17 tons) of debris on each of the building's floors. So far, police say they have made 87 "recoveries" of human remains — but they may not be from 87 different people.

    Officers believe no one survived from 23 of the building's 129 apartments.

    In an interview released by police, Hutchins said he understood the frustration of victims' families.

    "All I can say is please be patient, we are doing our utmost best for you. And we are working as hard as we can," he said.

    Police, the British government and the local authority that owns Grenfell Tower have all faced accusations that they were slow to grasp the magnitude of the tragedy — the country's deadliest fire in more than a century — and flat-footed in their responses.

    The blaze ravaged a building that was home to many working-class residents in one of London's wealthiest areas. The local authority, Kensington and Chelsea Council, is facing criticism over alleged cost-cutting during renovations that covered the tower in flammable aluminum cladding. The composition of the exterior panels helped fuel the fire's rapid spread.

    Queen, Prince Visit Volunteers Helping with London Fire Afte

    [NATL] Queen, Prince Visit Volunteers Helping with London Fire Aftermath

    Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince William visited a West London site on June 16 where community groups have gathered supplies for those affected by the apartment tower fire disaster. The royals met with volunteers and local officials as well as firefighters and police officers. The queen has expressed her sympathies to families of victims of the blaze that ripped through the 24-story building, killing at least 30.

    (Published Friday, June 16, 2017)

    Incoming council leader Elizabeth Campbell — selected after her predecessor resigned in the wake of the fire — acknowledged Wednesday it would take "a generation" to rebuild trust between Grenfell residents and the local government.