Grenfell Tower: `87 recoveries` of human remains but ‘catastrophic damage’ means death toll uncertain

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has published a detailed analysis of the Grenfell Towers disaster recovery operation following intense pressure from campaigners to provide a count of fatalities

Jul 5, 2017

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has published a detailed analysis of the Grenfell Towers disaster recovery operation following intense pressure from campaigners to provide a count of fatalities. The MPS has given details of painstaking searches by hand of the “catastrophic damage” left by the inferno and pledged “absolute determination” to reveal the human scale of the devastation In the update on the June 14 disaster it has been quick to place the fullest possible details in the public domain to ensure there are “no hidden victims”, amid barbed criticism of the investigation`s progress. Tottenham MP David Lammy is seeking a “survivors` list” from the authorities, arguing that “many more lost their lives” in the tragedy. Officers say they have made “87 recoveries” but stressed it does not mean that is “87 people”. Search and recovery teams have scoured all 23 habitable floors of the tower and work on recovering the “last visible remains” left was completed on Monday (July 3). Specialist officers, supported by expert anthropologists, have now started fingertip searches of rooms – with estimates that each floor of the 24-storey building are buried under an estimated 15.5 tonnes of fire debris. Commander Stuart Cundy, who is overseeing the MPS response, said 250 investigators are now working on the investigation but re-iterated last month`s warning that the work may take until the end of the year or longer to be sure how many people died in the fire. Some 21 people had now been formally identified by the coroner and their families informed. A total of 80 people are believed to be either dead or missing. Mr Cundy added: “Work in Grenfell Tower continues, seven days a week. Specialist officers have started a search by hand of the devastation left behind by the fire. “This will involve us meticulously going through tonnes of debris on each floor to find those human remains that are still within the debris inside Grenfell Tower. “We will use all the information we have, especially what we have been told by survivors and families, to prioritise our search where we believe we may find more human remains. This will take us many months, but we will search each and every flat. “I do not want there to be any hidden victims of this tragedy. “However, such is the devastation caused by the fire that it may be that, tragically, we cannot find or identify all those who lost their lives.” So far officers have spoken to at least one person from 106 of the 129 flats in the building. Investigators have been unable to trace anyone from the remaining 23 flats. “We assume that sadly no one from any of those flats survived,” Mr Cundy said. “Until our search operation is complete, I cannot say with any certainty how many people may have been in those flats, as occupiers or visitors, that night. On Tuesday night (July 4), victims’ families and survivors had a highly charged meeting with Mr Cundy and Dr Fiona Wilcox, the coroner tasked with identifying the dead at Olympia London in West Kensington, just over a mile from Grenfell Tower. It is reported that some of the survivors left the meeting after being told of the “apocalyptic” scenes faced by emergency workers. Mr Cundy said he understood the desire for answers from families and loved ones., adding: “We are committed to providing as much information as we can, as soon as we can. “It is vitally important that families and loved ones are engaged and know what we are doing and why. We will continue to involve families throughout the investigation,” he said. MP Mr Lammy said: “You have to get close to these people to understand the degree of trust and how badly they’ve been let down, and therefore I believe the way to deal with that is constant communication.” He added: “We now know there are 23 homes; they don’t know how many people are in them, but we don’t even know who owned the home, leased the home, ran the home. “So we know a little bit more, but we still don’t have a list of survivors. We’re sti

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