Six dead in London apartment block fire

By Li Wensha and Chris Peterson in London | | Updated: 2017-06-14 18:58

Fire engulfed a 24-storey block of government-owned apartments near Notting Hill, in west London Wednesday morning, killing at least 6 people and injuring 50 people, police and fire services said.

Six dead in London apartment block fire

Flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. [Photo by Lei Xiaoxun/]

Flames could be seen racing through the building from the fire, which started at about 00.54 am local time. More than 250 firefighters tackled the blaze through the night.

Police confirmed six fatalities but said the death toll is likely to rise as firefighters search the building fully over the next few days.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said she had never seen anything like it in her 29 years of experience. “This is a major fire that has affected all floors of this 24 storey building, from the second floor upwards,” she said.

Eyewitnesses told China Daily that they heard screaming and people calling for help. Majid Mahdi, who lives close by, said: “I live next door. I ran to help, we could hear people screaming and crying for help. The fire just got bigger and bigger. It has been a very sad night.”

Another resident, Dani Smith, who lives in the neighboring tower said it was an inferno. “There have been fatalities, families, children and old people. Everyone’s been evacuated. We were in the block right next to it. I’ve been told it could take up to three days before we can get back in, because the block next door could be unsafe.”

Local residents said the building, which contains 120 apartments, had recently been refurbished. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident and London’s ambulance said they had taken 50 people to five hospitals in the area. Others were treated at the scene by paramedics.

The block was built in 1974 and is owned by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, and managed by a contracting company on its behalf.

The refurbishment in 2014 cost 10 million pounds and followed complaints by residents of faulty wiring, poor ventilation and blocked fire exits.

The fire has dominated international news and may also set back the announcement of a deal between the Conservatives and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party on managing the government, the BBC reported.

DUP sources told the BBC the talks were not in trouble but the London tower block fire made any announcement on Wednesday inappropriate.

Kevin Wang in London also contributed to this report.

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