Fears are growing that the number of people who lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire in west London could reach 100, as the government promises a public inquiry into the deadly incident, according to reports.
Police announced on Thursday that they have opened a criminal investigation into the blaze, which engulfed the 24-story apartment block on Wednesday, leaving at least 17 people dead and dozens more injured. And entire families are missing after the deadly incident.
London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said there were still “unknown numbers” of people in the smoldering ruins of the building.
The announcement of probe comes after Labour MP David Lammy argued that the Grenfell Tower fire amounts to “corporate manslaughter, and led calls for a criminal investigation into the issue.
The investigation could result in the prosecution of anyone held responsible for building or design failures that caused the deadly fire.
“Sadly I can confirm that the number of people that have died is now 17,” London police commander Stuart Cundy told reporters.
“We as the police have started an investigation, I mentioned when I was down at the scene this morning that one of our very senior investigating officers is leading that for us,” he said.
“We as the police, we investigate criminal offences – I am not sitting here and saying there are criminal offences that have been committed, that’s why you do an investigation, to establish it,” Cundy stated.
“This will need to be a lot of work between us and other investigating agencies to establish what has happened and why and that is going to take a considerable period of time.”
Commenting the possible final death toll, the commander said he hoped it “does not reach treble figures.”
He said that of the 17 victims confirmed dead, only six have been formally identified, adding search for victims could take “months.”
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was confronted by a mob of angry residents demanding answers over the fire when visited the site of the gutted tower on Thursday.
They said they had been “let down.”
“There’s too much emphasis on Brexit mate! Look after the country,” one man shouted.
“Look after the people!” another woman said.
The Labour mayor pledged to get answers.
“I grew up in a similar council estate in South London and this could have easily been my family, my friends, and my community,” he said.
“I share their anger and concern,” he stated.
A total of 30 people are still in hospital, and 15 of whom are said to be in a critical condition.
Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday ordered a thorough investigation into the deadly incident.