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Grenfell Tower of London heavily damaged after fire; take a look

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Fri June 16 2017, 3:47 pm
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    Dozens of residents are missing and authorities say the death toll could rise further after the inferno engulfed the building with terrifying speed as residents slept in the early hours of Wednesday. The lucky ones got out alive, but have lost everything. (Reuters)

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    Extensive damage is seen to the Grenfell Tower block which was destroyed in a disastrous fire. Relatives of those missing after a high-rise tower blaze in London are searching frantically for their loved ones, as the police commander in charge of the investigation says he hopes the death toll will not rise to three figures. (Reuters)

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    On the streets around the charred carcass of the tower on Thursday there was palpable anger as people accused the local authority of neglecting the safety and wellbeing of the poor in favour of policies favouring the interests of the rich. (Reuters)

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    Alia Al-Ghabbani, a receptionist who lives on the estate, was among many angered by a recent refurbishment in which new cladding was added to the exterior of the building and which media reports have said might have played a part in the rapid spread of the fire. "It's really irritating why they prettied up the tower ... It's because that tower was such an eyesore for these people in very expensive houses just opposite," she said. (Reuters)

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    The fire service said it was too early to know what caused the blaze, and the local authority has said the refurbishment was designed to improve quality of life for residents of the block.(Reuters)

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    Community organiser Pilgrim Tucker, who had worked closely with residents of Grenfell Tower during the refurbishment period, saw the blaze as the tragic consequence of long-term neglect of an entire section of the community. "If government was doing its job … this wouldn’t have happened." As Tucker and others reported that fire safety concerns raised by residents had fallen on deaf ears, the fallout from the disaster fed into the broader political picture. (Reuters)

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    Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May visited Grenfell Tower on Thursday, but was cricitised for speaking only to firefighters and not to residents. In contrast, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was cheered after visiting a nearby church and meeting residents and volunteers helping out, with locals shouting "thank you for coming". (Reuters)

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    Anabel Donald, a well-to-do grandmother, has lent her ground-floor apartment to six people from the estate who had nowhere else to go. On the night of the fire, Donald rushed to the local church in her pyjamas and spent hours helping evacuees as best she could, making tea, providing toys to entertain the children and cleaning the toilets which were being used by dozens of people. (Reuters)

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    Though from the wealthier side of the street, Anabel Donald shared the outrage of other residents about the way Kensington and Chelsea has been run by the Conservative local council. "The feeling is, among the less privileged, that they get nothing and that the more privileged get everything. I think it is absolutely true," said Donald. (Reuters)

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    Anabel Donald accused the council of keeping taxes unnecessarily low, when it could easily raise more money to spend on social housing and other public services. She said she would happily pay more local tax herself. Amid the horror of the tower blaze, she said social divisions had seemed to matter less than usual. (Reuters)

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