by Amoh

June 15, 2017

Theresa May orders full public inquiry into London fire

The prime minister spoke to fire commissioner Dany Cotton as she surveyed the damage

Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered a full public inquiry into the fire that engulfed a west London block of flats, killing at least 17 people.

That figure is expected to rise, as fire chiefs do not expect to find any more survivors in the burnt-out Grenfell Tower in north Kensington.

The PM said people “deserve answers” as to why the fire spread so rapidly.

The first victim has been named by the Syria Solidarity Campaign as Syrian refugee Mohammed Alhajali, 23.

In a statement, the organisation said the civil engineering student was in a flat on the 14th floor when the fire broke out, and spent two hours on the phone to a friend in Syria.

He was trying to get through to his family while he was waiting to be rescued.

The group said: “Mohammed bid his friend goodbye, saying that the fire had reached him. He asked his friend to pass on the message to his family…

“Mohammed undertook a dangerous journey to flee war and death in Syria, only to meet it here in the UK, in his own home.

“Mohammed came to this country for safety and the UK failed to protect him.”

His older brother, Omar, lost him on the way out and survived, the organisation said.

Six victims of the Grenfell Tower blaze have been provisionally identified, Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said, but “there is a risk that sadly we may not be able to identify everybody”.

Earlier, Mrs May made a private visit to the scene, where she spoke to Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton and members of the emergency services.

She said: “[The emergency services] told me that the way this fire had spread and took hold of the building was rapid, it was ferocious, it was unexpected.

“So it is right that, in addition to the immediate fire report that will be produced and any potential police investigation, that we do have a full public inquiry to get to the bottom of this.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also visited the site, meeting residents affected by the fire. He told community leaders “the truth has to come out”.

Number 10 confirmed the inquiry will be judge-led.

Sources say the government hopes to announce the name of the judge “soon”, the BBC’s assistant political editor Norman Smith said, and this will be followed by a full commons statement on the inquiry after the Queen’s Speech on 21 June.

More at BBC.com

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