Fireproof Material on London Tower Would Have Cost $6.5K

Death toll stands at 30 but will certainly rise
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2017 7:37 AM CDT
Fireproof Material on London Tower Would Have Cost $6.5K
Washing machines are seen on different floors of the fire-gutted Grenfell Tower in London, Friday, June 16, 2017, after a fire engulfed the 24-story building Wednesday morning.    (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Police officials days ago said they didn't expect any more survivors to emerge in the London high-rise blaze, and on Friday, things got more grim: There is "a risk that sadly we may not be able to identify everybody," Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy tells the BBC. The Grenfell Tower death toll currently stands at 30, per the AP; as for how many dead there could ultimately be, Cundy said he hoped the toll would not end up in the "triple figures." The AP reports that officials have said they genuinely don't know what the toll might be. More:

  • The AP counts one entire family among the missing: Bassem Choukeir, wife Nadia, her mother Sariyya, and three daughters. All lived on the 22nd floor.
  • The Times of London reports at least six of the bodies recovered were found outside—suggesting they jumped to their deaths in a bid to escape.

  • The Times also digs into the building's cladding, which has been the subject of controversy in the wake of the fire. It reports the building was in 2015-2016 refurbished at a cost of $11 million, which involved the application of aluminium panels made by US-based Reynobond to the exterior. A Reynobond sales rep tells the paper the version used on the building has a flammable plastic (polyethylene) core and is banned on any building over 40 feet tall in the US because of the potential fire hazard. By the Times' math, the cost of outfitting the building in the fire-resistant version would have tacked $6,500 onto the renovation cost.
  • Why was the cladding added? Per planning documents seen by the Independent, for insulation, but also to "improve [the tower's] appearance especially when viewed from the surrounding area."
  • The Guardian delves into the building's renovation and finds that nine contractors and subcontractors were involved. This raises "concerns among architectural and fire safety experts about the quality of oversight and accountability," it writes.
  • The BBC notes a criminal investigation into the fire has been launched. The AP reports the fire's starting point has been reviewed, and there are no signs it was arson.
  • On the political front, the BBC reports a "political row" emerged over claims PM Theresa May spoke only to London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton and other emergency services workers when visiting the site Thursday, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and London Mayor Sadiq Khan spoke to residents and their relatives. May will be meeting with the injured Friday.
  • The BBC has a harrowing first-person account of a 15th-floor resident who managed to escape. "On one of the floors I tripped badly and fell, as I looked up I saw the face of a dead man. I can still picture him now."
  • "He survived Assad, he survived the war, only to be killed in a tower block in London": read the poignant backstory of the first victim to be identified.
(Read more fire stories.)

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