Latest: Unconfirmed reports of Irish victim; Cries of 'shame' as Theresa May meets Grenfell Tower residents

Latest: Unconfirmed reports of Irish victim; Cries of 'shame' as Theresa May meets Grenfell Tower residents

Update 8.20pm:The Department of Foreign Affairs have reiterated there is still no confirmation of any Irish casualties in the Grenfell Tower blaze amid claims that one victim has been identified as Irish.

This evening's update follows media reports that Michael Kingston, a London-based solicitor from Cork and director of the Irish Cultural Centre, has confirmation from 'sources in the city' of an elderly Irishman’s death.

He is reported as saying he believes the dead man was identified by his Claddagh ring.

A second victim of the disaster has been named as 24-year-old artist Khadija Saye.

Ms Saye was in her flat on the 20th floor when the fire struck, with her mother Mary Mendy, who is thought to be in her 50s.

Tottenham MP David Lammy confirmed the news on Twitter, writing: "May you rest in peace Khadija Saye. God bless your beautiful soul. My heart breaks today. I mourn the tragic loss of a wonderful young woman."

Syrian refugee Mohammed Alhajali, 23, was also killed in the fire.

Update 6.20pm: Theresa May faced cries of "coward" and "shame on you" as she returned to Kensington to meet Grenfell Tower disaster victims.

The Prime Minister met the group of victims, residents, volunteers and community leaders at St Clement's Church close to the scene of the horrific blaze shortly before 5pm.

Latest: Unconfirmed reports of Irish victim; Cries of 'shame' as Theresa May meets Grenfell Tower residents

There was a large police presence which had to hold back an angry crowd outside the church.

One woman wept saying it was because the Prime Minister declined to speak to anyone outside the meeting which lasted less than hour.

Police broke up a scuffle between members of the crowd as the Mrs May's car drove off.

Elsewhere there was more public fury as hundreds of protesters surrounded Kensington Town Hall demanding answers.

Scores of demonstrators surged towards the building's entrance and scuffles broke out outside as organisers appealed for calm.

Downing Street also announced a £5 million fund for emergency supplies, food and clothing.

At least 30 people have died but the death toll is expected to rise further with more than 70 people in total still believed to be unaccounted for.

Update 5.48pm: Protesters outside the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea headquarters have tried to storm the building.

Hundreds of people, gathered outside the town hall, said they wanted answers over the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Scores of protesters later surged towards the building's entrance, apparently trying to get in.

But they were soon called back away from the foyer by one of the organisers, who urged them to remain calm.

A council spokesman initially declined to comment on the action.

Latest: Unconfirmed reports of Irish victim; Cries of 'shame' as Theresa May meets Grenfell Tower residents

A number of people could later be seen inside the building being confronted by police and security guards in high visibility vests on a stairwell.

Protesters began covering their faces as the atmosphere appeared to get increasing ugly.

At one point some of the crowd chased a television cameraman down the street.

Latest: Unconfirmed reports of Irish victim; Cries of 'shame' as Theresa May meets Grenfell Tower residents

Police officers lined the door to the hall with some protesters still inside.

There were calls of "murderers" and "we want justice now".

Among the demands of some protesters was the rehousing within the borough of all those who lost their home and more information on the victims.

Update 3.30pm:

Residents of Grenfell Tower have described how they escaped the burning building.

While some attempted to leave their flats using damp towels as shields, witnesses reported seeing people resort to throwing children from windows in an attempt to save them.

Meanwhile, there are reports that the cladding on the London tower block destroyed by a fire may have accelerated the blaze.

The Times is reporting that the exterior cladding that encased the 24-story Grenfell Tower is banned in the United States.

Emergency services personnel on top of Grenfell Tower in west London. Picture: PA
Emergency services personnel on top of Grenfell Tower in west London. Picture: PA

Here are some of the stories:

:: Baby thrown from window

One witness described the moment someone dropped a baby from a window "on the ninth or 10th floor" as the fire raged through the tower block.

Samira Lamrani told the Press Association: "The windows were slightly ajar, a woman was gesturing that she was about to throw her baby and if somebody could catch her baby."

Ms Lamrani then saw a member of the public run forward and catch the infant, who she believes was unharmed.

:: Tripping over bodies

Christos Fairbairn, who lived on the 15th floor, told the BBC he heard noises outside and loud knocking on his door before smoke started to pour in.

After calling the fire service, who told him to get out, he attempted to leave but could not because of the thickness of the smoke outside his door.

He said he banged on his window calling for help, but burnt his hand on the melted plastic as he tried to open it.

Then, taking the emergency service's advice, he wrapped a wet jumper around himself and left the flat.

He described running down a stairwell so thick with smoke that he could barely see or breathe. Tripping in the dark, he realised the stairwell was littered with bodies.

After collapsing on a lower floor, he was rescued by a firefighter and later treated for smoke inhalation.

:: Woken by screams

Paul Mennacer, who was asleep in his flat on the seventh floor when residents became aware of the fire, was woken by people screaming and shouting "don't jump".

Despite black smoke filling his flat, he said: "My instinct told me 'Just grab your shoes and run out'.

"It was hard to get out because the fire exit stairwell was on the side of the fire and so there was a lot of debris falling."

:: Residents told to stay inside

Michael Paramasivan, 37, lived on the seventh floor with his girlfriend Hannah West, 23, and her five-year-old daughter Thea.

They escaped the inferno after choosing to leave their flat, contrary to the advice they were given.

Mr Paramasivan said: "If we'd listened to them and stayed in the flat we'd have perished."

:: Firefighters led residents to safety

Edward Daffarn, a resident who is a part of the Grenfell Action Group that urged the building's landlords to improve fire safety back in November, told Buzzfeed News he almost died trying to escape.

After tying a damp towel round his face, he attempted to leave his flat on the 16th floor but couldn't find the fire exit through the smoke.

He said a fireman who was lying on the ground opened the fire exit door for him.

"He touched my leg and that was enough," Mr Daffarn said.

"That enabled me to get out."

:: Woken by neighbours

One woman who escaped with her family after being woken by a call from neighbours on a higher floor, said she didn't know how big the fire was until she got outside.

Turafat Yilma, 39, along with her husband Abraham, 44, and five-year-old son Abem, had tried to leave, but the thick smoke in the corridor prevented them from using the staircase.

A firefighter later reached the seventh floor, knocked on their door and led them outside.

"It took us less than five minutes," she said.

Update 12.25pm:At least 30 people have died in the Grenfell Tower fire, police have revealed.

Metropolitan Police commander Stuart Cundy confirmed the death toll as he spoke near the scene of the devastating blaze in west London on Friday.

"I'm able to say at this point in time at least 30 people have died as a result of this fire," he said.

Mr Cundy said the victims included one person who had died in hospital.

"There is nothing to suggest at this time that the fire was started deliberately," he added..

There are still 24 people being treated in hospital; 12 of whom are described as being in critical condition.

Update 10.40am: The Ethiopian taxi driver whose faulty fridge is alleged to have caused the Grenfell Tower fire is devastated by the tragedy and is 'blaming himself’.

A friend said: 'He kept repeating it over and over again, ''people have lost their lives I can't bear it.''

Undated handout photos issued courtesy of Declan Wilkes of the inside of the Grenfell Tower, as searches for people missing in the inferno are continuing frantically. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

The Daily Mail reports that Behailu Kebede, a father of one, lived on the fourth floor of the tower block.

When the fire started in his flat he raised the alarm after banged on doors to alert his neighbours to the danger.

But a friend who spoke to Mr Kebede shortly after the tragic ordeal said the trauma was 'tearing him apart' and that he was 'blaming himself even though there was nothing he could do.'

His neighbour Maryann Adam, 41, described how Mr Kebede banged on her front door in the early hours of Wednesday to tell her that there was a fire in his kitchen.

She said: “He knocked on the door, and he said there was a fire in his flat. It was exactly 12.50am because I was sleeping and it woke me up.

“The fire was small in the kitchen. I could see it because the flat door was open. There was no alarm.”

Another friend of Mr Kebede confirmed he was from Ethiopia and said: “He is fine but he is not in a position to talk about anything right now. I understand that he in a temporary shelter, staying with friends.”

Dozens are thought to be unaccounted for since the blaze, which police fear was so devastating that some victims may never be identified.

Earlier: Searches for people missing in the Grenfell Tower inferno are continuing frantically as a police commander expressed hope the death toll would not hit triple figures.

Latest: Unconfirmed reports of Irish victim; Cries of 'shame' as Theresa May meets Grenfell Tower residents

Six bodies have so far been recovered from the gutted 24-storey tower, while 11 have been located inside, but cannot yet be removed.

Meanwhile, experts have said sprinklers could have been fitted in the tower for £200,000, but Nick Paget-Brown, the Tory leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, said there was not a "collective view" among residents in favour of installing them.

One of the first victims was named as 23-year-old Syrian refugee Mohammed Alhajali, with the Syria Solitary Campaign director Kareen El Beyrouty launching a campaign towards funeral costs.

The appeal said: "Mohammed Alhajali undertook a dangerous journey to flee war in Syria, only to meet death here in the UK, in his own home.

"His dream was to be able to go back home one day and rebuild Syria."

Currently, 17 people are known to have died, six of whom have been provisionally identified, but the figure is expected to rise significantly.

Metropolitan Police commander Stuart Cundy responded to speculation that the number of dead could exceed 100, saying: "From a personal perspective, I really hope it isn't.

"For those of us that have been down there, it's pretty emotional, so I hope it is not triple figures, but I can't be drawn on the numbers," he added, his voice cracking.

A missing poster for Khadija Saye, who friends are searching for along with her mother Mary Mendy following the fire.
A missing poster for Khadija Saye, who friends are searching for along with her mother Mary Mendy following the fire.

His words came as:

  • London mayor Sadiq Khan was heckled by an angry crowd as he passed through the west London neighbourhood, with some demanding to know how he planned to handle the crisis.
  • Widespread appeals continue for those lost since the fire, including children such as 12-year-old Jessica Urbano, and whole families, including Rania Ibrahim and her two daughters Fathia, five, and Hania, three.
  • Council chiefs pledged to carry out extra fire safety checks at some high-rise tower blocks across London amid concerns more buildings could be at risk.
  • Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who met displaced families, suggested luxury properties lying empty in Kensington should be taken over by the Government and used to house the Grenfell Tower residents.
  • An emergency government funding scheme was launched to help meet the costs of the disaster.
  • A rally will be held on Friday evening in Westminster calling for justice for those caught up in the fire.

The emergency services are gearing up for a third day of picking through the tower's charred remains in search of bodies.

Teams were forced to leave the building on Thursday afternoon when the fire restarted, delaying further the efforts to reach upper floors, where some victims are thought to have been trapped.

Mr Cundy said: "It may be - and I just don't know - it may be that ultimately some victims remain unidentified.

"I won't know that until we've gone through the full recovery from Grenfell Tower and we know exactly what we've got and I anticipate that is going to take a considerable period of time.

"Not just the immediate recovery of the bodies we have found but the full search of that whole building, we could be talking weeks, we could be talking months - it is a very long process.

"There is a risk that sadly we may not be able to identify everybody."

Latest: Unconfirmed reports of Irish victim; Cries of 'shame' as Theresa May meets Grenfell Tower residents

British Prime Minister Theresa May ordered a full public inquiry into the disaster in response to mounting anger that the fire might have been preventable.

On Thursday police also confirmed they had launched a criminal investigation into the matter.

It followed calls for those involved in the building's recent renovation - which many claim posed a major safety risk - to face prosecution.

"We as the police have started an investigation, I mentioned when I was down at the scene this morning that one of our very senior investigating officers is leading that for us," the commander said.

"We as the police, we investigate criminal offences - I am not sitting here and saying there are criminal offences that have been committed, that's why you do an investigation, to establish it."

The police's casualty bureau was said to have received 5,000 calls during the chaotic first day of the investigation.

Around 400 people were reported missing, but Mr Cundy downplayed the figure, saying it added up to more people than actually lived in the block. One person was reported missing 46 times, he added.

Missing: Jessica Urbano.
Missing: Jessica Urbano.

More than £1 million has been raised to help those affected by the fire, with more than 60 tonnes of donations collected by one local mosque.

Many of the refuges told the public they did not require any more donations after hundreds of people dropped off supplies.

Police urged anyone still concerned about a missing loved one to visit the reception area at the Westway Sports Centre, west London, or ring the casualty bureau on 0800 0961 233.

Those who reported a friend or relative as missing but have since been reunited with them were also asked to get in touch with police.

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