West London holds vigil for tower block fire victims

(FILES) This file photo taken on June 16, 2017 shows the shell of Grenfell Tower looming over protesters gathering at Notting Hill Methodist Church after marching back from Kensington Town Hall in west London, as they demand justice for those affected by the fire that gutted Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block in west London on June 14. Wednesday July 12, 2017 sees the four-week anniversary of the fire, marked by a vigil at the site. / AFP PHOTO / Tolga AKMEN

Hundreds of people held a vigil on Wednesday evening for the victims of the London tower block inferno, as anger simmers over the official reaction and the ongoing investigation.

Four weeks after a devastating fire ripped through Grenfell Tower in west London, mourners lit candles in an area filled with pictures, flowers and hand-written notes of remembrance.

“I know people who have been lost, I know people who have lost people, I know people who are besides themselves with grief. It is really, really difficult,” local MP Emma Dent Coad said.

A minute’s silence was held during which many wept, after which people attending the vigil sang Bob Marley’s “One Love”.

At least 80 people were killed when the high-rise went up in flames at an incredible speed, with the ferocity of the blaze prompting investigators to admit some victims may never be found.

“Four weeks ago a terrible tragedy unfolded within Grenfell Tower. The human cost of that tragedy is something we are all still trying to fully comprehend,” police commander Stuart Cundy said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Metropolitan Police’s disaster victim identification coordinator, Alistair Hutchins, told the BBC that Grenfell Tower was the worst incident he has dealt with in his 18-year career.

Describing the painstaking search through the debris, Hutchins said his team will employ 6mm sieves to pick up fragments such as bones and teeth.

With the recovery operation expected to take months, there has been anger within the local community at the official handling of the fire.

At a meeting with survivors earlier on Wednesday, police investigator Matt Bonner was met with cries of “arrest someone” as people grew frustrated with his explanations of the probe.

The incoming leader of the local authority, Elizabeth Campbell, was meanwhile heckled by one audience member.

Her predecessor as head of Kensington and Chelsea council, Nicholas Paget-Brown, stepped down over criticism of his handling of the fire.

But Campbell has been described as being disconnected from the community, after telling the BBC on Wednesday that she had never been into the local high-rises before taking up her new post.


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