A 27-storey building in London is still engulfed in a “very, very, very severe fire” hours after the flames started.
Forty fire engines were sent to the 27-storey high Grenfell Tower at 1am local time, but the flames quickly spread to consume the whole building from the second floor upwards.
More than 200 people live in the building but authorities are unsure how many were in the building at the time of the fire.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton has since released a statement confirming the worst, that multiple people have lost their lives following what London Mayor Sadiq Khan has described as a "major incident".
"At this time I am sad to confirm that we now know that there have been fatalities. I cannot confirm the number at this time and as you will appreciate with a fire of this size, affecting such a large building it would be unhelpful of me to speculate further," Fire Commissioner Cotton stated.
"The cause of the fire is not known at this stage, and clearly we will be here all day and will be in a providing further updates, working with the police and ambulance service."
"Further information for the public will be made available shortly, including advice for those concerned about those they are worried about and the emergency services will be working with all agencies, including the local authority to support all of those affected by this incident."
Since the fire erupted, a number of eye-witness accounts have placed people trapped inside the building.
“The sheer scale and the speed with which it spread, the closer you got, it seems like there must be casualties and fatalities,” local man and witness, Tim Downie told The Guardian.
Australian Man Jody Martin told the BBC he got to the scene at the same time as the first fire engine.
“I grabbed an axe from the fire truck, it looked like there was a bit of confusion about what to do.
“I ran around the building looking for a fire escape and couldn’t see any noticeable fire escapes around the building. A lot of debris falling down.
“I eventually gained entry onto the second floor, and once I got to the corridor I realised there was so much smoke there.”
He said with the dense smoke, he would be surprised anyone had managed to escape the building without help.
“I watched one person falling out, I watched another woman holding her baby out the window ... hearing screams, I was yelling everyone to get down and they were saying, ‘We can’t leave our apartments, the smoke is too bad on the corridors’,” he said.
British television presenter George Clarke told Radio 5 Live even standing 100 metres away from the scene, he was covered in ash.
The view from the BBC broadcasting house on the other side of London show how huge the flames were.
In January and November last year, the building’s action group complained about fire hazards in and around the building as well as their landlord’s “ineptitude”.
“It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO, and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders,” they wrote on Novemeber 20, 2016.
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