London, June 14 Several people have died and over 50 people have been hospitalized after a huge fire ripped through a 24-storey London apartment block early on Wednesday, according to emergency services.
Firefighters were alerted to the blaze at Grenfell Tower, an apartment block located in the neighbourhood of Kensington, shortly after Tuesday midnight, reports Efe news.
London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said that a number of people are thought to have died.
“I am very sad to confirm that there have been a number of fatalities. I cannot confirm the number at this time due to the size and complexity of this building. It would clearly be wrong for me to speculate further.
“In my 29 years of being a firefighter I have never ever seen anything of this scale,” Cotton said.
Councilor Nick Paget-Brown, who represents the area in which Grenfell Tower is located, said the tower block contains some 120 individual apartments, many of which house young families, meaning the number of people trapped by the blaze could run into the hundreds.
Some 200 firefighters and 40 fire trucks were deployed to the scene and emergency workers were battling to get the fire under control.
London’s Ambulance Service (LAS) said over 50 patients had been taken to five different hospitals across London following the blaze.
LAS Assistant Director Stuart Crichton said: “Over 100 of our medics are working hard to respond to this incident, including ambulance crews, advanced paramedics, advanced trauma teams from London’s Air Ambulance and those staff managing the incident in our special operations centre.”
Investigators were working to establish the cause of the blaze.
London’s Metropolitan Police, who also confirmed that there had been several fatalities, said that “a number of people” were being treated for a range of injuries and smoke inhalation and that “residents were continuing to be evacuated” from the tower.
Police have closed off roads nearby and asked people to avoid the area.
An earlier report said that at least 600 people were believed to have been inside the flats when the fire began.
Residents who escaped spoke of others trapped and screaming for help, with some holding children from windows and others jumping from upper floors, the Telegraph newspaper reported.
Pictures from the scene showed flames engulfing the block and a plume of smoke visible across the capital, while others showed residents looking out of windows in the block.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called it a “major incident”.
Paul Munakr, who lives on the seventh floor, managed to escape.
“As I was going down the stairs, there were firefighters, truly amazing firefighters that were actually going upstairs, to the fire, trying to get as many people out of the building as possible,” he told the BBC.
A witness, Jody Martin, said: “I watched one person falling out, I watched another woman holding her baby out the window… hearing screams.”