LATEST: Council chief 'backed to remain' despite Grenfell disaster critizism

LATEST: Council chief 'backed to remain' despite Grenfell disaster critizism

UPDATE 4.15pm: The leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council said he has received "overwhelming" backing to remain in the post in the face of widespread criticism of his administration over the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Nick Paget-Brown said that fellow councillors had shown their support in the wake of reports that he had offered to resign from the post.

Mr Paget-Brown and his administration has been heavily criticised by residents of the tower, where at least 79 people died after fire broke out in the early hours of June 14.

He has faced questions over materials used in the council's £8.6 million refurbishment of the tower, with suggestions cheap cladding could have played a role.

Other London boroughs and central Government officials were also drafted in to help with relief efforts in the wake of the inferno as residents claimed that Kensington and Chelsea Council staff were nowhere to be seen.

Mr Paget-Brown, a Tory who has been leader of the council since 2013 and a councillor since 1986, said: "In the circumstances it has of course been appropriate to ensure that as leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council I continue to have the support of my colleagues.

"They have said overwhelmingly that they back me and are behind my key priority at the moment, which is to work with government, charities, volunteer and resident groups and the emergency services to re-house and assist all those affected.

"This is absolutely rightly the focus of all of our attention and efforts."

>b>EARLIER: A 52-year-old woman is the fifth victim of the Grenfell Tower fire to have been named, after Scotland Yard announced the death toll had risen to 79.

Khadija Khalloufi, who lived in Grenfell Tower, had not been seen since a huge blaze destroyed the 24-storey tower block in west London last Wednesday.

Khadija Khalloufi
Khadija Khalloufi

Scotland Yard have also formally identified residents Ya-Haddy Sisi Saye, also known as Khadija Saye, 24, Abufars Ibrahim, 39, Anthony Disson, 65, and Mohammad Alhajali, 23, as among the victims.

The rest are missing, presumed dead, Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said on Monday.

In a statement, the family of Mr Disson said: "Our family are devastated at receiving the news that Tony sadly did not survive the fire at Grenfell Tower.

"Tony leaves behind a large family, his wife, sons and grandchildren, including one grandchild he will never get to meet.

"We miss him terribly, and are pulling together as a family and trying to stay strong under these tragic circumstances.

"We ask at this time that our family are left to grieve in private."

There were emotional scenes at the site in north Kensington at 11am as firefighters halted work to join residents for a minute's silence held to remember those who lost their lives and all others affected by the blaze.

Mohammad Alhajali, 23
Mohammad Alhajali, 23

The silence was also observed at government buildings across the country.

Mr Cundy said the death toll may still change, but not as significantly as it has in recent days, adding "the awful reality is that we may not be able to identify all those that died" inside what is now a blackened and charred shell.

He fought back tears as he told reporters at New Scotland Yard about the scene inside the tower.

Footage from inside the gutted building has been released, showing the extent of the damage.

Mr Cundy said it had been "incredibly emotional working in there", adding: "On Saturday I went in myself and went to the top floor.

"And it is incredibly hard to describe the devastation in some parts of that building."

Speaking later outside Scotland Yard, he added: "I have investigated major crime for most of my service and I have seen some terrible things.

"But I don't think anything prepared me for what I was going to see when I was in there.

"It's hard to describe my feelings, because I cannot imagine, and I would not want to put myself in the position of those families who have lost their loved ones.

"But being with colleagues from the London Fire Brigade when I was in there, colleagues from the London Ambulance Service and other police officers, I think it's fair to say it is incredibly emotional working in there.

"But we will do it with our utmost professionalism and we will do everything we can as quickly as we can to locate everybody who is in there."

Five people who had been reported missing after the disaster have been found safe and well, he added.

Amid anger in the wake of the disaster, which was described by London mayor Sadiq Khan as a "preventable accident", the Government announced that those left homeless will be given at least £5,500 from an emergency fund.

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