British Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged a full investigation into the cause of a fire that ripped through a London apartment block killing 12 residents and injuring dozens.
The fire was reported at the 24-storey block Grenfell Tower about 1am London time yesterday and was thought to have started on the fourth floor.
Eyewitnesses said they saw people trapped inside the burning building screaming for help, and shouting for their children to be saved.
Some 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 - some holding children. The north Kensington tower block contains about 120 flats.
Residents had reportedly raised fire safety concerns for several years. It had no sprinkler system, and some residents have said no alarms sounded as the blaze began. Before and during a two-year £10m refurbishment, the Grenfell Action Group claimed that the block constituted a fire risk and residents warned that site access for emergency vehicles was "severely restricted".
"In due course when the scene is secure, when it is possible to identify the cause of this fire, there will be proper investigation and if there are any lessons to be learned, they will be, and action will be taken," Mrs May said.
"Until then our focus must be on ensuring that the emergency services have what they need to contine with their harrowing work and that help and support is being provided to all those who have suffered as a result of this tragedy."
A Guardian reporter tweeted that some flats were still smouldering 19 hours after the fire started.
Fire still blazing on 15th and 19th floor pic.twitter.com/MkrT2D0jCs— lisa o'carroll (@lisaocarroll) June 14, 2017
The London Ambulance Service said 78 people had been treated in six hospitals. Thirty-four patients remained in hospital, of which 18 were in critical care.
London police commander Stuart Cundy said the number of fatalities was likely to rise. He told reporters he did not believe further survivors would be found in the building.
Residents of the block who had left during the fire were being urged to make themselves known to the authorities so it was known they were safe.
- Reuters / BBC