Tears of heroes in London: Firefighters pause in minute's silence for Grenfell Tower victims as death toll rises to 79

  • A minute's silence was held around the country today to remember those killed when fire engulfed the tower
  • Police confirm 79 people have died - they  say death toll will probably not rise significantly from that figure
  • Five of those who died in the blaze have now been formally identified, Scotland Yard confirmed today 
  • Police chief also reveals that five of those missing after the blaze have since been found safe and well

Firefighters searching through the wreckage of Grenfell Tower were supported by local residents during an emotional minute's silence to remember the victims of the horrific blaze.

The London crews who fought to tackle the fire last week, and have since been carrying out the dreadful task of piecing through the ravaged tower block, stood in silence in the shadow of the building at 11am this morning.

Some were moved to tears and others embraced after the official death toll of the disaster rose to 79, with five victims having now been formally identified.

Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said the death toll may still change, but not as significantly as it has in recent days.

The silence was observed around the country, outside fire stations, at government building and in town squares.

Speaking later outside Scotland Yard, Mr Cundy added: 'I have investigated major crime for most of my service and I have seen some terrible things. But I don't think anything prepared me for what I was going to see when I was in there.

'It's hard to describe my feelings, because I cannot imagine, and I would not want to put myself in the position of those families who have lost their loved ones.

'But being with colleagues from the London Fire Brigade when I was in there, colleagues from the London Ambulance Service and other police officers, I think it's fair to say it is incredibly emotional working in there.

'But we will do it with our utmost professionalism and we will do everything we can as quickly as we can to locate everybody who is in there.' 

 Mrs May does not support a proposal put forward by Jeremy Corbyn to seize unoccupied properties to rehouse survivors of the fire.

As anger continued in the wake of the disaster, described by London Mayor Sadiq Khan as a 'preventable accident', the Government announced those left homeless will be given at least £5,500 from an emergency fund.

Residents will be given £500 in cash followed by a bank payment for the rest from Monday and the money will come from the £5 million fund announced by Theresa May on Friday.

While they welcomed the funding, a group of residents who met Mrs May in Downing Street at the weekend said they had not been consulted before the latest announcement, adding that it continued a 'tendency to sideline residents' views'.

Earlier the group, made up of survivors of the fire, evacuees from nearby buildings, volunteers and community leaders, criticised Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation for its reaction to the disaster.

In a statement to the Press Association, they said: 'With the exception of very few junior officers, the estate managers have been invisible in the aftermath of the tragedy.'


Meanwhile, a company involved in the renovation of the tower was forced to deny cladding on the building was banned in the UK after comments made by Chancellor Philip Hammond.

It was reported that the material used in the cladding covering Grenfell was Reynobond PE - a cheaper, more flammable version of two available options.

Appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Hammond said: 'My understanding is the cladding in question, this flammable cladding which is banned in Europe and the US, is also banned here.'

John Cowley, managing director of CEP Architectural Facades, which produced rainscreen panels and windows for Grenfell Tower's cladding sub-contractor Harley Facades Ltd, said: 'Reynobond PE is not banned in the UK.

'Current building regulations allow its use in both low-rise and high-rise structures.

'The key question now is whether the overall design of the building's complete exterior was properly tested and subsequently signed off by the relevant authorities including the fire officer, building compliance officer and architect before commencement of the project.'

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