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London fire: Death toll rises

15 June 2017

Residents of the Grenfell Tower said there was little warning of the inferno that engulfed their high-rise apartment building early on Wednesday morning and left 12 people dead - a toll that British officials said would nearly certainly rise. Police expect the number of fatalities to go up.

Paul Woodrow, head of operations for the London Ambulance Service, said 20 of the injured were in critical condition. "The fire started on the upper floors ... oh my goodness, it spread so quickly".

"It is important that residents are familiar with the procedures and fire safety plan for their building and that they follow these instructions in an event of a fire". NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from London.

"Our building regulations need to keep pace with this change in living styles and ensure that New Zealanders never experience what happened in the Grenfell Tower in London". The fire began on the lower floors after midnight.

She said she feared more victims would be found still inside the tower, where up to 600 people lived in 120 apartments.

LANGFITT: Some witnesses reported residents jumping from windows.

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"A lot of lives were saved because of that, because they were awake", said neighborhood resident Ahmed Shellat, who claimed to know people in the building. It was about a quarter to 2.

One fan account wrote: "Adele was going around and hugging everyone she could to comfort them. Us members of the public were reassuring them, telling them we've done what we can and that we've phoned 999, but obviously the look on their face was death", Lamrani said.

LANGFITT: The woman, whom Chellat did not want named, said firefighters told her it was safer to stay inside the apartment. He said that the patients were being treated for a range of injuries and smoke inhalation.

"I first heard about it on the way to work at 6.30am", he told the Irish Independent.

Huffington Post UK had details on a mother who threw her baby to safety.

But numerous building's residents say they had been warning of a fire risk for months.

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But a line stating that the project had met all "fire regulation and health and safety standards", which was included in an earlier release, had disappeared.

The cause of the blaze is yet to be formally determined, but what is certainly known is just how rapidly the fire spread.

WOOD: In my building, I've got a complaint that's been ongoing now for six months to the council which hasn't been answered about the fact that my fire alarm doesn't work. They just neglect their duties.

"We always take all concerns seriously and these will form part of our forthcoming investigations".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said "searching questions" need to be asked about what happened, suggesting spending cuts could have contributed to the deadly fire, while general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union Matt Wrack said: "The truth is this should not be happening in the United Kingdom, one of the wealthiest countries in the world".

Gilmartin said fire design has evolved over the years but it's not feasible to make all older buildings comply with the latest legislation. The company that performed the renovation said all materials followed safety guidelines. A total of 78 people were hospitalised after the fire.

At least 12 dead in west London tower block fire
A woman can be heard screaming for help in shocking footage she broadcast while trapped on one of Grenfell Tower's top floors. There was no immediate word on the cause, but angry residents said they had repeatedly warned about a potential fire threat.