Police vow to return Grenfell Tower victims' remains 'as soon as we can'

The officer leading the Grenfell Tower fire investigation has said police are determined to return those who died to their families, in a statement released four weeks after the tragedy.

Commander Stuart Cundy said the human cost of that blaze "is something we are all still trying to fully comprehend".

He added: "Each and every one of us involved from the Met is determined to do all we can to return those who died to their families as soon as we can.

A Grenfell Tower vigil back in June.

"Today, we remember all those who have been so deeply affected."

Mr Cundy continued: "As we all reflect upon what happened my thoughts, and those of all of us in the Met, are with those who lost their loved ones, their homes and a community that is in mourning.

"Four weeks ago a terrible tragedy unfolded within Grenfell Tower.

"The human cost of that tragedy is something we are all still trying to fully comprehend.

"For many people the events of that night will remain with them forever."

A vigil will be held on Wednesday evening in the shadow of the block's blackened shell, the first of several commemorations expected as the one-month anniversary approaches.

Mourners will gather around a wall of handwritten tributes which sprung up after the fire and has since sprawled around several streets in the west London neighbourhood.

Earlier in the day, inquests are expected to be opened for more of the victims at Westminster Coroner's Court.

At least 80 people are thought to have died when the blaze tore through the 24-storey block on June 14.

The fallout from the disaster has been wide-reaching, with hundreds of families displaced, a clutch of local politicians resigning and tensions heightening between residents and the authorities.

Specialist teams are continuing the grim task of scouring the building for the remains of victims, a process expected to continue for months.

Those affected by the tragedy have been granted additional time to make their case about which issues a public inquiry will consider.

Campaigners had warned they were prepared to abandon the forthcoming probe unless it was broadened to consider systemic problems alongside the immediate causes.

An inquiry spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that the deadline for consultation on its terms of reference would be extended until July 28.

He said: "Since the announcement of Sir Martin Moore-Bick as chair of the Grenfell Tower public inquiry, he and his team have held discussions with many interested parties, in particular survivors of the fire and other residents of the Lancaster West estate.

"It has become clear from these that there is a broad consensus that those affected need more than the one week originally envisaged for the inquiry's consultation on its terms of reference.

"We are therefore extending the consultation period until 28 July, an extension of two weeks.

"We believe this strikes the right balance between providing enough time for people to respond meaningfully and ensuring the inquiry's work, which cannot begin without terms of reference, can progress quickly."

A nationwide safety operation is in full swing to establish how many other high-rise buildings were encased in flammable cladding, which is blamed for the blaze's spread in Grenfell Tower.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said in an update that 211 buildings across 55 local authority areas used material that failed its fire safety tests.

- PA


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