Political News

The Latest: UK's May meets fire survivors, faces criticism

Posted June 17

— The Latest on the London high-rise fire (all times local):

8:40 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, facing criticism for the government's handling of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, has met with 15 survivors and community leaders at her official residence at 10 Downing Street in London.

The meeting lasted more than two hours Saturday but the group did not speak to reporters gathered outside.

The meeting is unlikely to quell complaints that May has been slow to reach out to fire survivors, despite her announcement of a $6.4 million emergency fund to help displaced families. Some 600 people were living in the tower's 120 apartments. Police say 58 people at the tower are now confirmed or presumed dead. All the rest are homeless.

May said after the meeting there have been "huge frustrations" in the community as people tried to get information about the fire investigation. She says "the support on the ground for families who needed help or basic information in the initial hours after this appalling disaster was not good enough."

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3:40 p.m.

London police say 58 people who were in Grenfell Tower are still missing and assumed to be dead.

Police Commander Stuart Cundy said Saturday that this number, which was based on reports from the public, may rise. He says it will take weeks or longer to recover and identify all the dead in the public housing block that was devastated by a fire early Wednesday.

He said there may have been people in the tower that police are not aware of, which would add to the death toll.

He says the search for remains had been paused because of safety concerns but has resumed. Emergency workers have reached the top of the 24-story tower.

Cundy promised an exhausting investigation into the tragedy. He says "my heart goes out to those affected."

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2:20 p.m.

London's fire department says that the reason for the subway closure near the high-rise fire disaster is because of a "short-term risk of some debris falling onto the tracks."

Earlier, a sign at a Tube station said that the service suspension was because of the "safety" of nearby Grenfell Tower, suggesting structural concerns. A new sign was put up, removing that detail.

A fire department spokesman said crews are working to secure the debris so that two subway lines could be reopened as soon as possible.

At least 30 people were killed in Wednesday's inferno, which left Grenfell Tower a charred hulk.

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1:30 p.m.

Service on two London Underground lines has been partially suspended because of concerns about the safety of the high-rise in the fire that killed at least 30 people.

The 24-story Grenfell Tower in the north Kensington neighborhood in west London is near several major transport hubs. The building was gutted in a blaze early Wednesday morning that has also left dozens missing and hundreds of others homeless.

Major roads near the stricken building were open Saturday. Police have established a security cordon around the building to protect public safety and allow searchers easy access to the wrecked building.

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1:20 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will meet with survivors of the London high-rise fire at her Downing Street office.

The announcement by a spokesman comes a day after May was heckled during a visit to the west London neighborhood where Wednesday's inferno took place. At least 30 people have been killed, hundreds of others have been left homeless and dozens of others are missing. There has been growing public anger at the government's initial response to the disaster's aftermath and reports that external paneling put up during a recent renovation contributed to the flames' rapid spread.

May is chairing a government task force on the fire and a spokesman says that she will meet afterward with "a group of residents, victims, volunteers and community leaders" at No. 10 Downing Street.

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12:45 p.m.

A soccer player says that he will donate 50 pounds (more than $60) for each minute he plays at a European youth tournament to the victims of London's high-rise inferno.

Hector Bellerin, who is in Spain's team at UEFA's European Under-21 Championship, made the announcement on Twitter , saying "please support in any way." Spain faces Macedonia on Saturday night in the tournament, which is being played in Poland. If Bellerin plays a full 90 minutes, not including added time, he would donate 4,500 pounds (about $5,750) per match. Bellerin, a defender, also plays for London club Arsenal.

At least 30 people were killed in the fire at Grenfell Tower in the west London neighborhood of north Kensington. Hundreds of others have been left homeless and dozens are missing.

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10:50 a.m.

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip have observed a minute of silence to honor the victims of the London high-rise fire.

The queen and Philip stood silently before the start of the annual Trooping the Color procession that marks the queen's official birthday.

She said earlier that the national mood is somber but that Britain is resolute in the face of adversity.

The queen's official birthday is marked in June when the weather is often nicer than in April, the actual month of her birth. She is 91.

At least 30 people have died in Wednesday's fire and dozens are missing.

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10:20 a.m.

British health authorities say they are still treating 19 patients, 10 of whom remain in critical condition after the London high-rise fire.

NHS England says the injured are being treated in four London hospitals. At least 30 people were killed in Wednesday's inferno at the Grenfell Tower, while dozens of others are missing.

The fire at the 24-story building has led to community anger and protests over the British government's response. The public is also demanding answers about how the blaze spread so quickly amid reports that the recently-renovated building's exterior paneling fueled the flames.

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7:50 a.m.

More than 3 million pounds ($3.8 million) has been raised for victims of the London high-rise fire that has killed at least 30 people and left dozens homeless.

Londoners and others have also donated huge amounts of food, water and clothing, and shelter, to survivors.

Three appeals on the JustGiving site have helped to raise the 3 million pounds, and London's Evening Standard newspaper has launched a separate appeal that has raised at least 1.5 million pounds ($1.9 million) by Saturday morning. The British government has announced a 5 million-pound ($6.3 million) emergency fund for the victims.

The inferno Wednesday morning at the 24-story Grenfell Tower has led to community anger and protests over the government's response.

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7:20 a.m.

London firefighters are continuing the grim search after a high-rise fire that killed at least 30 people as public anger about the blaze continues to grow.

Many are demanding answers for how the blaze spread so quickly. Britain's Press Association says around 70 people are missing.

Queen Elizabeth II marked her official birthday Saturday by saying Britain remains "resolute in the face of adversity" after the horrendous fire and recent extremist attacks in London and Manchester.

The 91-year-old monarch said it is "difficult to escape a very somber mood" on what is normally a day of celebration.

The government has promised a full public inquiry.

Scuffles broke out near the Kensington and Chelsea town hall offices Friday as demonstrators chanting "We want justice!" surged toward the doors.

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