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Grenfell Tower fire: Police considering manslaughter charges

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05:25 - Source: CNN
Tower fire leaves lasting scars

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Police investigating possibility of manslaughter charges in Grenfell Tower disaster

Fire in London apartment block left at least 79 people dead or presumed dead

Blaze started in fridge-freezer, but spread rapidly to much of the 24-story building

London CNN —  

London’s Metropolitan Police Service is considering manslaughter charges among the criminal offenses that may have been committed in relation to last week’s deadly Grenfell Tower fire.

The police investigation is focused on how the blaze started, how it spread so fast and whether any person or organizations should be held responsible, Detective Chief Superintendent Fiona McCormack told a press briefing Friday. Documents have already been seized, she said.

McCormack said the number of people dead or presumed dead remains at 79, but she fears the true number could be higher. She appealed for people to come forward with information about anyone who may have been in the building on the night of the fire.

UK authorities have given assurances that they will not check anyone’s immigration status as a result of information given to police in relation to the blaze. The 24-story high-rise was home to 125 families, but visitors may also have been in the building when the flames took hold.

The investigation is one of the most complex ever undertaken by the Metropolitan Police, McCormack said. Work at the scene of the fire is “difficult and distressing,” but search teams are endeavoring to recover everything possible so it can be returned to victims’ families and survivors.

“Such is the devastation inside, our forensic search and recovery may not be complete by the end of the year,” she said. “There is a terrible reality that we may not find or identify all those who died due to the intense heat of the fire, but we will do absolutely everything we can with the utmost sensitivity and dignity.”

Failed safety tests

Speculation has focused on the role that cladding used in a recent refurbishment of the tower may have played in the fire, which appeared to spread quickly up the building’s exterior in the early hours of June 14.

Samples of insulation from the tower and equivalent aluminum composite tiles sent by police for analysis have failed safety tests, McCormack said.

“Such are the safety concerns with the outcome of these tests we have immediately shared the data with the Department for Communities and Local Government, who are already sharing that information with local councils throughout the country,” she said.

Investigators are also looking at the insulation behind the cladding and how the tiles were installed, she said.