At least 30 confirmed dead following London tower fire

24 people are still being treated in hospital following Wednesday's blaze

At least 30 confirmed dead following London tower fire

Picture by: Matt Dunham/AP/Press Association Images

At least 30 people have died as a result of the Grenfell Tower fire, officials in London have confirmed.

Speaking this afternoon, Metropolitan Police commander Stuart Cundy said that "sadly and tragically" one person died after being taken to hospital.

Police say the number of fatalities may continue to rise.

24 people are still being treated in hospital, including 12 in critical care.

Commander Cundy said experts believe they have now examined the original location where the fire started.

"There is nothing to suggest at this time that the fire was started deliberately," he added.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince William this morning met victims of the Grenfell Tower fire and members of the emergency services at a refuge centre in west London.

Earlier, the fire service said "a good half" of the building has yet to be searched in detail and many relatives are still desperately looking for loved ones.

The upper floors in particular may need shoring up before firefighters can safely get into the flats.

Police - who have launched an investigation into potential criminal wrongdoing - have warned the search could take months.

"It may be that ultimately some victims remain unidentified," said Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy.

"For those of us that have been down there, it's pretty emotional, so I hope it is not triple figures, but I can't be drawn on the numbers."

Syrian refugee Mohammed Alhajali, 23, and artist Khadija Saye, 24, have been named as the first victims as anger grows about why apparent warnings over fire safety in the tower were ignored.

A 'Justice for Grenfell' rally is being planned for Friday evening, with more than 1,700 people on Facebook saying they will march on Westminster.

Criticism

Theresa May visited the west London estate on Thursday, but has been attacked for not meeting residents.

The Prime Minister, who has announced a public inquiry into the fire, only met emergency services.

One furious local woman said: "She really should have listened to people's anger. That's not a prime minister 'for the people', as the Tories said - not at all. Nobody here was spoken to."

Former cabinet minister Michael Portillo was one of those to criticise her, saying she "didn't use her humanity".

Conservative minister Tobias Ellwood - who tried to save PC Keith Palmer during the Westminster Bridge attack - defended the PM and said it was due to "security concerns".

Sadiq Khan was heckled during his own visit to the charred block.

He faced a difficult moment when a seven-year-old bluntly asked him: "How many children died? What are you going to do about it?"

London's mayor said an interim report into the disaster should be published this summer.

"We need answers now," he said. "We can't afford to wait a number of years."

Jeremy Corbyn was photographed meeting volunteers, and with his arm around people when he visited the 24-storey tower.

The Labour leader has suggested luxury Kensington apartments lying empty should be used to house people without a place to stay.

"The many residents I met today are very angry," the Labour leader said.

"Their concerns about the building were not responded to and their questions were not answered."

That anger stems from repeated safety concerns raised to the council over a number of years by residents.

Many blame the cladding added last year for allowing the fire to spread with frightening speed. Witnesses said it raced up the building in as little as 15 minutes.

The material believed to have been used for the refurbishment has been banned in high-rise buildings in the US, according to the Times.

Locals also told Sky News of a gas installation they say left exposed pipes in the tower's stairwell, with a witness saying he saw blue flames shooting out.

The lack of a sprinkler system has surprised many but the leader of Kensington and Chelsea council said not all residents were in favour in case they delayed the refurbishment.

Experts estimate they could have been added at a cost of £200,000 during the £10m building works.

But Nick Paget-Brown told BBC Newsnight: "Many residents felt that we needed to get on with the installation of new hot water systems, new boilers and that trying to retrofit more would delay the building and that sprinklers aren't the answer."

Fundraising

Meanwhile, the huge charity effort to help those affected shows no sign of letting up.

JustGiving said on Thursday afternoon that £1.6m (€1.8m) had been raised for those affected by the fire.

With local charities and community groups inundated with clothes and food, music mogul Simon Cowell also revealed he is planning a charity single to raise money.

He tweeted: "We hope to confirm a record tomorrow which will raise some money for the many people affected by this tragedy. Making calls tonight."

Comedian Al Murray has also said he will donate all profits from his two shows in London this weekend.