British police increased the number of people killed or presumed dead in the London highrise fire disaster from 79 to 80 on Wednesday, and said a final death toll may not be known until the end of the year.
Most of the people killed in the June 14 inferno at Grenfell Tower earlier this month were believed to be from just 23 of the building’s 129 apartments, said Det.-Supt. Fiona McCormack of Metropolitan Police.
On Tuesday, police said they had identified 18 killed in the blaze, including three children, eight men and seven women.
Also Wednesday, Prime Minister Theresa May said cladding on 120 different tower blocks failed fire tests in the wake of the fire, showing a widespread breach of British building regulations over previous decades.
May said the cladding — panels put on the outside of buildings to improve their esthetics and energy efficiency — was not compliant with regulations. The manufacturer has since halted sales of the panels.
May said the test failures showed there was a wider fire safety issue that was the result of failures over many decades.
‘Much wider issue’
“As we have seen from the number of buildings where the cladding has failed the combustibility test … this is a much wider issue,” May said.
“It’s an issue that has been continuing for many years, for decades, in terms of cladding being put up in buildings. There are real questions, as to how this has happened, why it’s happened and how we can ensure that it doesn’t happen in the future.”
May clashed with Opposition Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who criticized cuts to local government and fire service budgets.
“This disaster must be a wake-up call,” he said.
May has pledged to rehouse all residents who have lost their homes within three weeks — a target Corbyn said she was at risk of missing.
“At the moment, it doesn’t look anything like that target is going to be achieved.”