Khan blames London fire tragedy on years of neglect - Khan

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said.
The Grenfell Tower fire was a "preventable accident" caused by "years of neglect" by the local council and successive governments, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said.

After attending a service for victims, Mr. Khan said the fire was a national disaster requiring a national response.

Kensington and Chelsea Council's leader said officials had been working "around the clock" since the fire on Wednesday.

"No one local authority would be able to cope," said Nicholas Paget-Brown.

There were "enormous challenges" facing his borough's residents, he added.

Many families are bereaved following the fire which ripped through the 24-storey tower block in the middle of the night, and many more are homeless.

At least 58 people are believed to have died but police fear that number may rise. The BBC understands around 70 may have died.

The government has sent in a team of civil servants to bolster the relief effort. They were spotted in high-visibility jackets in the area on Sunday afternoon.

Details of how the government's £5m emergency fund will help have been outlined, including:

Every household whose home was destroyed will receive at least £500 in cash and £5,000 paid into an account
Prime Minister Theresa May said: "My government will continue to do absolutely everything possible to help all of those affected through the difficult days, weeks, months and years ahead."

The council has faced widespread criticism for its handling of the disaster, with residents complaining that officials had provided little support or information.

A group who met Mrs. May at Downing Street have criticised estate managers for being "invisible in the aftermath of the tragedy".

"We explained to the prime minister the anger of all residents towards the management of the estate over a long period of time, paving the way to this tragedy," they said.

Mr. Khan echoed their point, saying: "People are angry, not simply at the poor response in the days afterwards from the council and the government, but at the years of neglect from the council. There's a feeling that the council and government don't understand their concerns and don't care."

He said the fire was the consequence of the "mistakes and neglect from the politicians - the council and the government. People in this community are sick to death of platitudes from politicians," he added.

Writing in the Observer, Mr. Khan suggested that high-rise tower blocks dating from the 1960s and 1970s could be torn down in the wake of the fire, which he said may well be the "defining outcome of this tragedy".

Councils from across London are now involved in the relief operation, with humanitarian assistance being provided by the west London borough of Ealing.

The Home Office said it was making arrangements for the family of civil engineering student Mohammed Alhajali, who died in the fire, to travel from Syria to the UK for his funeral.

Chancellor Philip Hammond told BBC's Andrew Marr Show that a criminal investigation would examine whether building regulations had been breached when the block was refurbished.

 Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told ITV's Peston on Sunday that the council had seemed to "lack the resources to deal with a crisis of this magnitude", despite being the country's "wealthiest borough".

Meanwhile, Labour MP David Lammy, whose friend Khadija Saye is among the dead, has called for urgent action to make sure all documents relating to the refurbishment and management of Grenfell Tower are protected.

After speaking to residents, he said: "We need to make sure that the emails, minutes of meetings, correspondence with contractors, safety assessments, specifications and reports are not destroyed."

Questions continue to be asked about why the fire spread so quickly, with some suggesting new cladding fitted during a recent overhaul could have been to blame.

So far in the investigation:

Three have been named so far, including Syrian refugee Mohammed Alhajali, 23, five-year-old Isaac Shawo, and artist Khadija Saye.
  - Of those killed, one died in hospital.
   -Eighteen people remain in hospital, nine in critical care.
  -Councils across the UK are carrying out urgent reviews of their tower blocks.
   -A British Red Cross appeal is launched to raise money for those affected.
    -The emergency number for people concerned about friends and family is 0800 0961 233.

The prime minister has also come in for a barrage of criticism over her own response to the disaster.

She was jeered on a visit to the North Kensington estate on Friday, and protesters marching on Friday and Saturday called for her resignation.

The Hammersmith and City and Circle lines on London Underground will be suspended in the area for at least the rest of Sunday at the request of the emergency services.

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