UK fire fears continue as 60 buildings deemed unsafe

2017-06-25 22:26
A T-shirt left by firefighters near Grenfell Tower in London. (Frank Augstein, AP)

A T-shirt left by firefighters near Grenfell Tower in London. (Frank Augstein, AP)

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London - The fallout from London's devastating tower block fire continued on Sunday as the government announced 60 high-rises have failed safety tests, while authorities struggle to evacuate some residents.

The massive operation to test tower blocks follows the Grenfell Tower inferno earlier this month that is presumed to have killed 79 people after it spread at shocking speed.

Suspicion has fallen on the cladding installed on the outside of Grenfell and urgent checks have found that such material used on 60 other residential buildings failed fire tests.

"All landlords and fire and rescue services for these local authorities have been alerted to the results and we are in touch with all of them to support and monitor follow-up action," said Local Government Minister Sajid Javid.

The new figure is a significant jump from the 34 high-rise buildings in England deemed unsafe by the government on Saturday.

Chaotic evacuation 

While many people have been able to stay in their homes despite the fire risk, thousands of residents from 650 flats in north London were evacuated on Saturday.

An inspection showed four of the five Chalcots Estate towers in Camden were at risk over cladding, fire doors, gas pipes and insulation, prompting a chaotic evacuation with temporary accommodation offered in a local leisure centre and hotels.

Despite the safety fears, around 200 residents have refused to leave their homes, some of whom suffer from agoraphobia, according to local authority leader Georgia Gould.

"I'm going myself back to the blocks to knock on doors and have those conversations," she told BBC television of her efforts to convince residents to leave.

Gould refused to be drawn on whether there was a deadline to evacuate residents, saying: "The last thing I want to do is force people out of their homes."

It is up to each local authority to decide whether to evacuate residents from blocks which have failed fire tests, a spokesperson for the communities and local government told AFP.

As tests continue to avoid a repeat of the horror which broke out at the Grenfell on June 14, the charred skeleton of the 24-storey block looms over west London.

Police detective Fiona McCormack on Friday said all "complete bodies" had been removed from the wreckage and there was "a terrible reality that we may not find or identify everyone who died due to the intense heat".

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