The confirmed death toll from the Grenfell Tower fire in London has risen to 30, with 12 people still in a critical condition in hospital, police said.
The blaze engulfed the 24-storey building in west London in the early hours of Wednesday, and Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday ordered a full public inquiry.
London Police Commander Stuart Cundy said the priority now was to “recover and identify all the victims”.
“We know that at least 30 people have died as a result of this fire,” he said, adding the figure was expected to rise.
“We will ensure that families are informed as soon as possible when we know beyond doubt that it is their loved one who has been identified.
“It is a complex process. We are focused on making sure we are supporting all those families where people are still unaccounted for.
“The investigation will look in into what criminal offences may have been committed.”
Fires continued to burn inside the building more than 24 hours after the initial blaze broke out. (Supplied: Declan Wilkes)
Fire safety engineers were stunned at how rapidly the fire spread, engulfing the building in less than an hour in the middle of the night and preventing firefighters from reaching many people inside.
Some jumped to their deaths rather than face the flames, and witnesses reported seeing small children thrown from the tower by their families in a desperate bid to survive.
Twenty firefighters and four fire engines remained at Grenfell Tower throughout last night (local time), the London Fire Brigade said.
Specialist Urban Search and Rescue crews are working to make the block safe so that firefighters can continue to search the building.
“Sadly we are not expecting to find any more survivors and the operation is now one of recovery rather than rescue,” London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said.
Queen Elizabeth II visited a west London site where community groups were gathering supplies. (AP: Dominic Lipinski)
Royal family visit amid chaos
Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince William visited a west London site where community groups have gathered supplies for those affected by the tower fire disaster.
The Queen met with volunteers, and expressed her sympathies to families of victims of the blaze.
The Grenfell Tower public housing complex had 120 apartments and housed as many as 600 people.
The mainly poor residents of the huge public housing complex said a tenant group’s warnings about possible fire risks had been ignored for years.
Last year, the building underwent a $14.6 million exterior refurbishment that included new external cladding and windows.