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London fire: Prime minister orders full public inquiry


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.
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”.
Asked about the number of dead, Cdr Cundy said: “I hope it is not triple figures, but I can’t be drawn on the numbers.”
In a statement, the Syria Solidarity Campaign said Mr Alhajali, a civil engineering student, had been in a flat on the 14th floor when the fire broke out, and had spent two hours on the phone to a friend in Syria.
Fled war in Syria
He had been 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.
On the first day of the investigation, the police’s casualty bureau was said to have received 5,000 calls.
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”.
The Labour MP Harriet Harman criticised Mrs May for not meeting residents, writing on Twitter: “She should have been prepared to listen to them.”
Number 10 confirmed the public 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.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said one of the issues the inquiry will consider is the refurbishment of the tower blocks and whether it was refurbished in a safe way.

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