London police said Monday that 79 people are now believed to have died in a devastating high-rise apartment building fire. Police Commander Stuart Cundy said the new figure includes both people who were confirmed dead and others who are missing and presumed dead. It's an increase from the previous number of 58. The new total may change as the search and recovery operation in the 24-story Grenfell Tower continues, he said, adding that it has been incredibly distressing for families. "It's hard to describe the devastation the fire has caused," Cundy said, fighting back tears as he spoke. He said it had been "incredibly emotional working in there ... On Saturday, I went in myself and went to the top floor."
Late Sunday, the Metropolitan Police released three photos from inside Grenfell Tower, which showed in close detail how the fire charred the building that once housed up to 600 people in 120 apartments. Meanwhile, authorities are continuing to investigate whether any crimes had been committed in the inferno, reports the AP. Two British officials have said that new exterior cladding used in a renovation of Grenfell Tower may have been banned under UK building regulations. Experts believe the new paneling, which contained insulation, helped spread the flames quickly up the outside of the public housing tower. Some said they had never seen a building fire advance so quickly.