Grenfell Tower victims rise to 79

The death toll from the Grenfell Tower fire has risen to 79, police said.

Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said five people had been formally identified and the rest were “sadly” missing presumed dead.

The charred remains of Grenfell Tower

The charred remains of Grenfell Tower

He told reporters the “awful reality” was that it might not be possible to identify all the victims.

Some families have lost more than one member, he added.

The announcement came ahead of a minute’s silence to be held at 11am across all Government buildings to remember the people who lost their lives and all those affected by the fire in north Kensington last week.

Mr Cundy said the death toll may still change, but not as significantly as it has in recent days.

Firefighters and staff observe a minute's silence at Manchester Community Fire Station, in memory of those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire in west London last week

Firefighters and staff observe a minute's silence at Manchester Community Fire Station, in memory of those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire in west London last week

He fought back tears as he told reporters about the scene inside the 24-storey tower in north Kensington.

Footage from inside the gutted building has been released, showing the extent of the damage caused by the blaze.

He said it had been “incredibly emotional working in there”, adding: “On Saturday I went in myself and went to the top floor.

“And it is incredibly hard to describe the devastation in some parts of that building.”

Members of the police and London Fire Brigade observe a minute's silence near to Grenfell Tower (background) in west London after a fire engulfed the 24-storey building on Wednesday morning

Members of the police and London Fire Brigade observe a minute's silence near to Grenfell Tower (background) in west London after a fire engulfed the 24-storey building on Wednesday morning

Five people who had been reported missing after the disaster have been found safe and well, he added.

Mr Cundy said: “Sadly, as of this morning, I am afraid to say there are now 79 people who we believe are now dead or missing and we have to presume they are dead.”

He said police had received some 70 pictures and videos of the fire from the public and urged them to send more as officers investigate the blaze.

He would not be drawn on the specifics of the criminal investigation of the fire, including whether anyone had been arrested or raids carried out.

As anger continued in the wake of the disaster, described by London Mayor Sadiq Khan as a “preventable accident”, the Government announced on Sunday that those left homeless will be given at least £5,500 from an emergency fund.

Residents will be given £500 in cash followed by a bank payment for the rest from Monday, with the money coming from the £5 million fund announced by Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday.

Speaking outside Scotland Yard, Mr Cundy added: “I have investigated major crime for most of my service and I have seen some terrible things. But I don’t think anything prepared me for what I was going to see when I was in there.

“It’s hard to describe my feelings, because I cannot imagine, and I would not want to put myself in the position of those families who have lost their loved ones.

“But being with colleagues from the London Fire Brigade when I was in there, colleagues from the London Ambulance Service and other police officers, I think it’s fair to say it is incredibly emotional working in there.

“But we will do it with our utmost professionalism and we will do everything we can as quickly as we can to locate everybody who is in there.”