London fire: Lives claimed at Grenfell Tower
There have been a “number of fatalities” after a huge fire raged through the night at a west London tower block, London Fire Brigade says.
Firefighters are still tackling the blaze at Grenfell Tower in north Kensington, where eyewitnesses reported seeing people trapped inside.
Thirty people are being treated in hospital, says London Ambulance.
The BBC’s Andy Moore said the whole 24-storey block had been alight and there were fears the building might collapse.
Eyewitnesses said they saw lights – thought to be mobile phones or torches – flashing at the top of the block of flats, and trapped residents coming to their windows.
The Met Police has set up an emergency number on 0800 0961 233 for anyone concerned about friends or family.
At 06:15 BST, London Ambulance Service said 20 ambulance crews had been at the scene, 30 people had been taken to hospital, but the nature and level of their injuries was not yet clear.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said a “major incident” had been declared.
Three hours after the fire started, police said people were continuing to be evacuated from the tower.
Paul Munakr, who lives on the seventh floor, managed to escape.
“As I was going down the stairs, there were firefighters, truly amazing firefighters that were actually going upstairs, to the fire, trying to get as many people out the building as possible,” he told the BBC.
He said he was alerted to the fire not by fire alarms but by people on the street below, shouting “don’t jump, don’t jump”.
“Now, honestly I don’t know for certain if people jumped off the building to get away from the fire, but the main thing for me with this incident is the fact that the fire alarms didn’t go off in the building,” he said.
Eyewitness Jody Martin said: “I watched one person falling out, I watched another woman holding her baby out the window…hearing screams.
“I was yelling at everyone to get down and they were saying ‘We can’t leave our apartments, the smoke is too bad on the corridors.'”
The BBC’s Andy Moore said: “We’ve seen debris falling from the building, we’ve heard explosions, we’ve heard the sound of glass breaking.
“The police keep pushing back their cordons, pushing back members of the public for fear the building might collapse.”
Grenfell Tower was built in 1974 by Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council.
It’s part of the Lancaster West Estate, a sprawling inner-city social housing complex of nearly 1,000 homes.
Grenfell Tower underwent a two-year £10m refurbishment as part of a wider transformation of the estate, that was completed last year.
Work included new exterior cladding and a communal heating system.
The 24-storey tower, containing 120 flats, is managed by the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) on behalf of the council.
The local Grenfell Action Group had claimed, before and during the refurbishment, the block constituted a fire risk and residents had warned that access to the site for emergency vehicles was “severely restricted”.
The BBC has been unable to contact the property’s management company in the hours since the fire.
One eyewitness, George Clarke, the presenter of Channel 4 TV programme Amazing Spaces, told Radio 5 Live: “I’m getting covered in ash, that’s how bad it is.
“I’m 100 metres away and I’m absolutely covered in ash.
“It’s so heartbreaking, I’ve seen someone flashing their torches at the top level and they obviously can’t get out.”
Jody Martin said he ran towards the building to try and help when he saw the fire.
He said he was shouting at people to “get out, get out” but that residents were shouting back that they were stuck as corridors inside the building were filled with smoke.
Tim Downie, another eyewitness, told the BBC part of the building was “completely burned away”.
“It has burned through to its very core,” he said.
“It looks very bad, very very bad. I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s just such a big fire.
“The whole building is just crumbling. It’s just billowing black smoke.”
Safiyah, who is about 500m away from the building, said: “There are lots of people gathered in the street. I just see more and more flames burning and tragically I hear people crying for help.
“The entire building is burning through.”