PM May orders full inquiry after London tower fire toll rises to 17

LONDON – At least 17 people are confirmed dead in the massive fire that engulfed a block of flats in west London on Wednesday.

“Sadly I can confirm that the number of people that have died is now 17,” Metropolitan Police commander Stuart Cundy said in a televised statement on Thursday.

The death toll is expected to rise, as fire chiefs do not expect to find any more survivors in the burnt-out Grenfell Tower, in north Kensington.

Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered a full public inquiry into the fire that engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower, which was home to between 600 and 800 people.

Witnesses reported terrified residents had leapt from the tower and dropped their children in a desperate bid for survival.

Fire crews rescued 65 adults and children, but some stayed in their homes, trapped by smoke and flames.

A brief search of all floors in the tower was underway, but the severity of the fire and amount of debris means a thorough search would be “difficult and painstaking”, according to officials. Sniffer dogs will now be sent in to search for evidence and identification of people still inside.

People have been desperately seeking news of missing family and friends.

PM May said people “deserve answers” as to why the fire spread so rapidly and that the inquiry “will give them”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, also visited the site, telling community leaders “the truth has to come out”.

UK Queen Elizabeth-II earlier said her “thoughts and prayers” are with families.

Firefighters were called to the 24-storey residential tower in the early hours of Wednesday, at a time when hundreds of people were inside, most of them sleeping. Many were woken by neighbors, or shouts from below, and fled the building.