London fire latest: Twelve confirmed dead in Grenfell Tower and dozens remain unaccounted for

Danny Boyle
Huge plumes of smoke pour from Grenfell Tower as the blaze rages - Evening Standard / eyevine

Read all the latest on the Grenfell Tower fire here

Grenfell Tower fire in pictures

At least 12 people have been killed in a huge fire that ripped through a west London tower block, but police expect the death toll to rise.

Up to 600 people are believed to have been inside Grenfell Tower's 120 flats when the blaze tore through the 24-storey building in the early hours.

Eighteen people are in critical care after 79 injured people were taken to hospital. But many are still missing after residents were left trapped on upper floors as flames rapidly ripped up the block after initially being told to stay in their homes.

Grenfell Tower fire

Residents who escaped spoke of others trapped and screaming for help, with some throwing children from windows and others jumping from upper floors. Some were reported to have attempted to use bin bags as makeshift parachutes.

Pictures showed flames engulfing the block and a plume of smoke visible across the capital, while others showed desperate residents looking out of windows in the block.

Huge plumes of smoke pour from Grenfell Tower as the blaze rages Credit: JEREMY SELWYN/Eyevine

In a sign of hope, survivors were still being pulled from the block 12 hours after the blaze started - but numbers of those saved are unclear.

As an investigation into the cause of the fire began, residents reported that fire alarms had not sounded and that they were told to "stay put" in their flats and "put a wet towel down by the door".

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: "There will be a great many questions over the coming days as to the cause of this tragedy and I want to reassure Londoners that we will get all the answers."

More than 250 firefighters were called to the block on the Lancaster West Estate, in north Kensington, at about 1am. Several firefighters also suffered minor injuries in the blaze.

Glenfell Tower fire

Confirming the deaths, Commander Stuart Cundy, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "I can confirm twelve fatalities at this time but this figure is likely to rise during what will be a complex recovery operation over a number of days. Many others are receiving medical care."

He said it was likely to be some time before police are able to identify the victims, adding that it was too early to speculate on the cause of the fire.

Smoke continues to pour from the upper floors of Grenfell Tower Credit: PAUL GROVER for The Telegraph

After fears were raised that the block could collapse, fire chiefs said a structural engineer is monitoring the stability of the building, which "continues to be safe for our crews to go and work in".

Meanwhile, an action group claimed their warnings of a "catastrophe" fell on "deaf ears" after highlighting safety concerns three years ago. Stay with us for the latest updates throughout the day.

Grenfell Tower locator

5:46AM

Hospitals had prepared for cyanide poisoning

A doctor working at King's College Hospital in south London says they had prepared treatments for cyanide poisoning amid concerns of toxins given off in the Grenfell Tower blaze.

Foam in old furniture can give off toxic gas and kits were ready and waiting before patients caught up in the inferno arrived at hospital.

Dr Malcolm Tunnicliff, clinical director for emergency and acute care at the hospital, dealt with 12 casualties from the fire.

He told the Guardian: "We knew in advance that it was a fire in an enclosed space so we also knew there was a real risk of cyanide poisoning from foam in older furniture burning.

"So we had lots of cyano kits - which contain the antidote to cyanide poisoning - ready and waiting to give people.

"Happily tests shows that none of them had; that was a relief.

"I was in bed asleep when my phone rang at 2.39am with an automated message from the King's switchboard. It just said 'major incident declared, King's is a receiving hospital', the same as it did after the Westminster Bridge and London Bridge terror attacks.

"My first fear was: is this another terror incident? Oh God, what's happened this time?"

He said the 12 patients - a mixture of children and adults - arrived by 3.45am and all had injuries caused by smoke inhalation, some of which were "very serious".

He added some patients had "critical injuries" to their airways and lungs.

4:42AM

Adele visits Grenfell Tower

Adele was seen at Grenfell Tower on Wednesday night, where she offered comfort to those affected by the tragedy.

3:02AM

'This should not be happening'

The Fire Brigades Union chief has said serious questions need answering in the wake of the Grenfell Tower blaze.

General secretary Matt Wrack told the BBC that people living in the north Kensington block devastated by fire "have the right" to ask questions about whether alterations to the cladding compromised the safety of the building.

"The starting point is there needs to be an absolutely thorough investigation.

"The truth is this should not be happening in the UK, one of the wealthiest countries in the world."

When questioned about advice given to residents to stay in their properties in case of fire, Mr Wracksaid:

"The logic of construction of tower blocks is to compartmentalise the fire, so a fire should be restricted to the flat or floor of origin.

"If during the course of renovations - I'm not saying this has happened because we don't know - if during the course of renovations fire resistant walls, doors, ceilings have been compromised, then clearly the whole basis on which that advice has been based falls apart.

"This should not be happening, that's the horrible aspect of this incident."

1:34AM

Man arrested after posting pictures of Grenfell Tower 'body' on social media

A 43-year-old man has been arrested over allegations he posted pictures of a Grenfell Tower victim on social media.

Images were posted of what appear to be a partially-covered body following the fatal blaze in north Kensington, west London.

At least 12 people are known to have died as fire ripped through the 24-storey building in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The Metropolitan Police said a man was arrested on suspicion of sending malicious communications and obstructing a coroner.

Officers confirmed the arrest relates to the fire at Grenfell Tower and the man is in custody at a west London police station.

1:20AM

'It was felt we had done what was necessary'

When questioned about residents' worries about fire safety at the block, Kensington and Chelsea Council's deputy leader Rock Feilding-Mellen told BBC's Newsnight: "My understanding is that their concerns were looked at and officers and the TMO (tenant management organisation) made inquiries and felt we had done what was necessary."

12:53AM

How papers reacted

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Read our full round-up of all the morning's front pages.

12:42AM

More than £500,000 raised as offers of help pour in

Companies, individuals and charities have sprung into action to offer help to anyone affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, with crowdfunding pages raising more than £500,000 in fewer than 24 hours, PA reports.

Here is a summary of some of the efforts so far:

Rest centres set up nearby

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea said its "immediate priority" is to accommodate the residents of Grenfell Tower, families with young children, the elderly and the vulnerable.

A rest centre has been set up at Westway Sports centre, Crowthorne Road, to provide emergency accommodation for anyone unable to return home.

Other rest centres at St Clement Church, Treadgold Street and the Rugby Portobello Trust, Walmer Road, were earlier said to be nearing capacity.

Those concerned about family and friends have been asked to go to a special rest centre, opened at the Salvation Army Offices on Portobello Road.

People bring donations to Rugby Portobello Centre Credit: PA

Donations

Donations have poured in for those affected by the fire.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea said staff were sorting through items, but said they could not accept any more donations at present.

The British Red Cross, whose volunteers have been supporting those affected, also said the rest centres did not currently need any more donations.

Football clubs offer help

Local football clubs Queens Park Rangers (QPR) and Fulham rushed to support those left homeless by the blaze.

QPR said it had opened its doors and facilities to those affected by the fire, but also said it could not accept any more donations, while Fulham also helped with the collection drive.

Individuals offer up their homes

A number of individuals have reached out via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to offer accommodation and transport help to those affected.

One woman, named Giselle, tweeted: "Just called [Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea] @RBKC and left my details. They are looking for emergency housing. I have offered my place. Do the same if you can £Grenfell"

Instagram user co.-lams posted an image reading: "Any residents of Grenfell Tower or Lancaster West Estate who need a local place to stay DM me."

People bring donations to Rugby Portobello Centre Credit: PA

Local businesses step in

Businesses at the nearby Notting Dale Village brought trolleys of refreshments including sandwiches and fruit to the emergency services working at the cordons around Grenfell Tower.

Manager Hayley Allen said: "We have a local community focus and wanted to help and show our support in whatever way we could."

Volunteers stood on the edge of the exclusion zone with trays of sandwiches, which were offered to police as they walked past.

Marco Antoniades, who owns MGA Autos on Latimer Road, near Grenfell Tower, has offered to take in "clothes, food or anything that can help" at his garage to deliver to people affected by the fire.

"I heard some of the other places for donations are full already so I'm just giving people the option to bring things here," he told the Press Association.

"Everyone is walking round in shock. I've seen a couple of friends nearly in tears in other garages round here.

"Like in most places in England people get together and help each other in times like this and that's what we're trying to do."

Phone company EE also said people are welcome to use their stores in the local area if they need to contact anyone or use social media.

They said the stores on Kensington High Street, Notting Hill, Queensway and the two in White City are closest to the incident.

Telecoms giant TalkTalk, whose headquarters are close to the tower block blaze, said it had thrown open its offices to affected residents in need of refuge.

The group, which is based at Evesham Street in London, is offering food and drinks as well as phone chargers and phone banks.

TalkTalk spokeswoman Isobel Bradshaw said: "The office is open to anyone affected by it or emergency services who need a break or somewhere to rest."

Retailer Monsoon, which is based next door, is also offering refreshments to those affected.

Crowdfunding pages raise thousands of pounds

A number of crowdfunding pages have been set up for those affected by the blaze, raising a total of more than £500,000 in fewer than 24 hours.

An appeal on JustGiving launched by Karolina Hanusova had raised £240,000 by 10pm, while another set up by Hayley Yearwood has generated £312,857.

The London Evening Standard has launched an appeal on a dedicated website dispossessedfund.org.uk.

The Rugby Portobello Trust also suggested that donations be made to the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation's website: https://thekandcfoundation.com/donate/

10:32PM

May on Grenfell fire: 'impossible to comprehend the horror'

 

10:00PM

'If regulations were followed, the Grenfell Tower inferno should have been impossible'

Geoff Wilkinson writes:

I am a building inspector and fire engineer with 30 years’ experience. I’ve overseen numerous projects across London, including new builds and refurbishments, making sure buildings comply with the proper regulations, and post-occupation fire risk assessments. Given my experience, I was shocked by the blaze which engulfed Grenfell Tower in the early hours of Wednesday morning. 

At this point in time it’s very hard to tell precisely what went wrong. We don’t know where the fire started and we don’t know how it spread. What we can say for sure is how the building should have performed – and that it definitely did not perform that way. If regulations were followed, what happened at Grenfell Tower should never have been possible, and there are very big question which need to be answered. There are already suggestions that proper planning procedures were not followed.

Normally, British fire regulations assume that fires will start in one location only – and normally, this is completely reasonable. In a big tower block like Grenfell, each individual flat is a fire-tight box from which flames should not be able to escape, and a fire which starts in one tends to stay in it. That is why residents are usually advised to stay within their own rooms and wait for rescue. The fire service should arrive within ten minutes, ascend the building, and tackle the fire where it burns, while other residents sit quite happily in place.

This is also why we shouldn't be disturbed by reports from Grenfell that there was no common alarm system installed. Most residential blocks don’t have common alarms, because they could trigger a mass panic in which everyone tries to evacuate via the same stairwell which the fire service are using to reach the fire. Unlike in a hotel, there are no fire trained fire wardens to safely direct such an evacuation. In the event that a fire grows too large, firefighters might sometimes decide to evacuate the floor immediately above. Otherwise, it’s better everyone stays where they are. That policy has worked several hundred times over the past few years without a problem.

What happened at Grenfell was something else entirely. Firefighters were on site six minutes after being called, which is within expectations. But it is extremely unusual for the fire to spread this far and with this speed and ferocity. Within half an hour or so it had travelled way beyond the first flat, making it very difficult for the fire services to control it. Even more worryingly, survivors have reported that stairwells and lobbies were choked with smoke, which should never happen: there are supposed to be means of clearing smoke from such areas. In those circumstances, “stay and hide” becomes obsolete.

Read the full article.

9:41PM

'It was just like the images of 9/11': Firefighter tells of 'war zone' scene at Grenfell Tower

A firefighter who helped tackle the Grenfell Tower blaze has compared the scene to a "war zone".

The emergency worker, called Terry, who spent eight hours working at the scene in North Kensington, said he had "seen nothing like it" during his 27 years with the fire service.

He told LBC Radio: "We had to literally run under police riot shields because of the amount of flaming debris, just to get into the building.

A firefighter pours water over his head after battling a huge fire at the Grenfell Tower Credit: EPA

"There was one small staircase that everyone was going up. It was just like the images of 9/11.

"We were going up the staircase and people were coming down in smoke. I don't know how they were breathing."

Terry said he went up as far as the 10th floor, adding: "The amount of kit that this job has absorbed from the London Fire Brigade is unbelievable. It's like a war zone here."

The firefighter, who worked in the aftermath of the IRA bombing at Canary Wharf in 1996, said no amount of planning could prepare the emergency services to deal with a fire so catastrophic.

A firefighter working at Grenfell Tower Credit: Reuters

Describing the carnage and desperation of people trapped in their flats, he added: "One of my colleagues was hit by someone who jumped out of a window.

"To see a whole 24-storey building go up in flames - how does that happen? How does that happen in a first world country? How it happens in London in 2017 is anyone's guess."

8:46PM

Prayers for Grenfell victims

Dozens of people have gathered for a vigil in the shadow of the Grenfell Tower.

Many were moved to tears after a moment of silent contemplation outside the Notting Hill Methodist Church in west London.

Prayers are said and candles are lit outside Notting Hill Methodist Church near the 24 storey residential Grenfell Tower block in Latimer Road Credit: Getty

The Rev Mike Long invited those present to light candles to place on the steps of the church on Wednesday evening.

He then played Amazing Grace on his flute as members of the crowd sang along.

He said: "There are times when all the words we can say are not adequate and sometimes words fail us because no words can do justice to how we feel, or what we have seen or what has happened. Today is one of those days.

Young and old pay tribute to Grenfell victims Credit: Getty

"What we can simply do is look to all that we have seen today which is good, which is fabulous - people getting together."

He added: "Let light triumph over all that is rotten, that is desperate and that defies our understanding."

 

 

8:25PM

Theresa May orders 'proper investigation'

Prime Minister Theresa May said there will be a "proper investigation"  following the Grenfell Tower fire, adding: "If there are any lessons to be  learned they will be, and action will be taken." 

Mrs May said it was "impossible to comprehend the horror" of what the victims of the fire have gone through.

The tragedy comes little more than a week after Londoners stood defiant in the wake of the London Bridge terror attack, and Mrs May applauded the "incredible bravery" of the emergency services and the reaction of those who helped those caught up in the fire.

She said: "The response of people living nearby who provided help, compassion and support has I think once again shown the fantastic spirit of London.

"Earlier today I ordered a cross-government meeting to ensure that every assistance was being given to manage the emergency service response and that group will meet again tomorrow."

8:06PM

Archbishop of Canterbury praises response to the tragedy

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the response from the community had been an "extraordinary sight". He told the BBC: "As we've seen, and we saw in Manchester as well of course, is just everyone coming together when there is a tragedy on this scale.

"And just outpouring of the most extraordinary love and generosity, and people just getting stuck in - putting their own interests aside.

"It's just incredible."

7:59PM

'Standardising checks and processes for refurbished buildings and creating formal regulations should be the starting point from today'

Dr Kostas Tsavdaridis, a structural engineer and Associate Professor of Structural Engineering at the University of Leeds said:

“The fire seems to have not only spread the inside the building but also outside. There is a trend nowadays where architects and designers use decorative materials to make buildings more interesting and aesthetically pleasing. 

“Some materials used in facades act as significant fire loads: although theoretically they are fire resistant, in most cases they are high-temperature resistant instead of fire resistant. But even if they are, smoke and fire will spread through the joints and connections. Therefore, although regulations can be met by using sprinklers and fire doors for compartmentation, fire can find a way to spread and expand quickly. 

Water is sprayed by fire fighters on to the burning 24 storey residential Grenfell Tower block in Latimer Road, West London on June 14, 2017 Credit: Getty

“As more residential and mixed use towers appear on the London skyline, the use of different advanced materials, robust early warning systems and better designs to improve evacuation time-frames and escapes routes should be seriously revisited. 

“We cannot have a situation where people's safety is put at risk because of bad or old-type designs or badly maintained tower blocks in code-deficient buildings lead to tragedies like this one in Grenfell Tower. Standardising checks and processes for refurbished buildings and creating formal regulations should be the starting point from today.”

7:41PM

Emergency accommodation provided to all 44 affected households

Emergency accommodation has been provided to 44 households affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, the local council has said.

Families with young children, elderly residents and those who are vulnerable have been given "immediate priority", according to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) Council.

The authority said it was helping anyone who needs emergency accommodation and has offered "financial assistance to cover their immediate needs".

Donations outside Latymer Community Church after a fire engulfed Grenfell Tower in west London Credit: PA

Housing officers will work through the night to provide support for those affected by the blaze, in which at least 12 people have died, it added.

People unable to return to their homes will be offered emergency accommodation at Westway Sports Centre in Crowthorne Road, north Kensington.

Council leader Nick Paget-Brown said:

This is a terrible day for Kensington and Chelsea and we are doing all we can to support the victims and their families.

At present all our focus has to be on supporting the rescue and relief operation. But the cause of the fire will need to be fully investigated and we will keep people informed.

A council spokesman also thanked people who made "generous donations of food, clothing and other items", but added: "We would ask you to please hold off for now as we have been inundated with useful items.

"When we need donations again we will update via our website and social media."

  • Anyone concerned for their loved ones can call the casualty bureau on 0800 0961 233, while residents displaced by fire should call 020 7361 3008.
  • Volunteers who wish to help with the support effort can contact 020 7361 3008.

7:31PM

Sadiq Khan: Checks will now be carried out on similar tower blocks

The London Mayor has held talks with ministers about the tragedy. He said:

I raised the issue of checks on other tower blocks which have been going through similar refurbishment programmes to Grenfell House, and I welcome that ministers have said checks will now be carried out.

7:07PM

What we know so far

At least 12 people have died after a huge fire destroyed Grenfell Tower in north Kensington, west London, with the death toll likely to rise.

Here is what we know so far:

  • The Metropolitan Police confirmed the number of fatalities as 12 but warned the total is expected to rise.
  • NHS England said 74 people were treated in six hospitals across the capital. Thirty four are still receiving treatment, of whom 18 are in critical care.
  • Crews were first called to the scene in Latimer Road at 12.54am on Wednesday.
  • Forty appliances containing more than 200 firefighters attended the scene, with a number receiving minor injuries.
  • Grenfell Tower was built in 1974 and contains 120 flats thought to be home to between 400 and 600 people and is 24 storeys high.
  • The building was refurbished recently at a cost of £8.6 million, with work completed in May last year.
  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the fire had been declared a "major incident" and there would be a "great many questions" asked over the coming days.
  • A casualty bureau has been set up for anyone concerned about friends and family on 0800 0961 233.

6:21PM

Calls for 'major investigation'

There have been calls for a major investigation amid questions about how the fire spread so rapidly through the block.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton earlier told reporters: "This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale."

Prime Minister Theresa May was said to be "deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life" and newly appointed police and fire minister Nick Hurd will chair a meeting of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat to co-ordinate the response.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said "searching questions" need to be asked about what happened, suggesting spending cuts could have contributed to the deadly fire.

He said: "If you deny local authorities the funding they need, then there is a price that's paid."

Built in 1974, Grenfell Tower was recently refurbished at a cost of £8.6 million, with work completed in May last year.

Rydon, the firm that carried it out, said its work "met all required building control, fire regulation, and health and safety standards".

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "There will be a great many questions over the coming days as to the cause of this tragedy and I want to reassure Londoners that we will get all the answers."

Nick Paget-Brown, leader of Kensington and Chelsea Borough, said: "Clearly, looking further ahead there needs to be a full investigation into the cause of this fire, why it started and why it appears to have spread so rapidly."

6:17PM

'You could hear the screams of children' 

More horrific stories are emerging of the people caught up in the tragedy.

 Samia Badani, 41, was in a flat overlooking the fire and described hellish scenes unfolding behind windows.

"There was a woman who was banging on her window screaming and I saw her just get totally engulfed in flames," she said.

"You could hear the screams of the children all the way down.

"We saw there was a woman hysterical in a window and my neighbours were yelling up trying to reassure her.

"She was on about the sixth floor from the top so I don't think she got out.

"From about 4am the building has started to shake, if it falls down we are going to be badly affected."

5:50PM

Housing minister: tower blocks to be checked for safety

Emergency checks are to be carried out on tower blocks going through the same process of refurbishment as Grenfell Tower, a minister has said.

Policing and Fire Minister Nick Hurd said they wanted to provide reassurance to people living in other buildings as soon as possible.

He said: "We have discussed with the Department for Communities and Local Government, local authorities and the fire service a process whereby we seek to identify towers that might have a similar process of refurbishment, run a system of checks so that we can, as quickly as possible, give reassurance to people."

Mr Hurd said that whatever resources were needed to deal with the situation would be made available.

"Everyone I have spoken to on the frontline - the fire, the police, the ambulance services - resources have not been the issue," he said.

"People arrived very quickly in good numbers and with the right equipment to deal with an unprecedented situation last night.

"The Government is absolutely determined to make sure we are there to support the emergency and support services but also the people who have been caught up in this tragedy."

5:47PM

Breaking: Two explosions heard within Glenfell Tower 

Reports of more explosions and flames erupting from the tower block

5:35PM

NHS England say they have "pulled out all the stops" to treat fire victims

The NHS said it has treated 74 patients in six London hospitals, with 34 remaining in their care - 18 of whom are in critical care.

Dr Vinod Diwakar, NHS England's medical director for London, said:

“Across London, we are continuing to respond to the tragic incident at the Grenfell tower block in Kensington. We would like to thank staff across the NHS who have been pulling out all the stops in caring for the patients affected. The commitment, professionalism and outstanding care they have shown is something to be really proud of.

“The hospitals receiving patients continue to be busier than normal and we encourage Londoners to use NHS services wisely and turn first of all to sources of advice such as NHS 111 and local pharmacies.”

5:19PM

Tenants warned tower block was 'disaster waiting to happen'  

The former chairman of the tenancy organisation connected to Grenfell Tower has described recent refurbishment work as a "disaster waiting to happen".

Reg Kerr-Bell said he stood down from the Kensington and Chelsea Tenancy Management Organisation (TMO) several years ago over his concerns about the way it was run.

Just two days before the fatal blaze, he had spoken to a former colleague about their fears.

Mr Kerr-Bell said: "This is a scandal. This is one of the biggest scandals in the country - and it could have been avoided."

He added: "This refurbishment contract should never have been managed by TMO.

"It was too big for them. My great concern was about the viability of the project."

He said he met a former director two days ago to discuss his concerns.

"We felt there was a disaster waiting to happen and we were going to have a meeting with the MP so that we could put these concerns to them.

"That was two days ago and today he phoned me and said: 'You will not believe what is going on'.

"It is not going to finish with this - this is just the start."

5:18PM

Small pockets of fire still active

Emergency services said they will look at whether the refurbishment played a role in the blaze. 

Small pockets of fire are still burning in the building.

5:09PM

79 taken to hospital as NHS ask public not to overburden emergency services

Paul Woodrow, from London Ambulance said 79 people had been taken to hospital from the building, with more presenting themselves at hospital.

"This has been a very challenging and complex incident that has been running for a long length of time," he said.

Clinicians and specialist teams remain on the scene.

Mr Woodrow added that the public should consider carefully before calling 999 or attending accident and emergency departments.

"Consider the use of NHS 111, GP or pharmacy for less urgent needs while we continue to deal with this incident," he said.

5:05PM

12 dead in fire, police confirm

Commander Stuart Cundy, of the Metropolitan Police, confirmed the death toll has risen to 12 people.

A spokesman for the fire service said: "At its height over 40 appliances and over 250 firefighters". 

He added this was an "unprecedented fire", saying "I'm extremely proud of our firefighters in bringing this under control". 

"We intend to be here until the job is done. We certainly will be here through the night. Firefighters through their professionalism and bravery have managed to search almost all of the building now."

4:18PM

79 patients in hospital - 18 of them in critical care

The ambulance service has released more up-to-date figures: it said 69 patients have been taken to six hospitals across London, with 18 people in critical care. A further 10 patients made their own way to hospital.

4:08PM

Residents might have died after being told to stay inside flats

It has emerged that a number of residents may have perished in the fire after being told to stay inside their flats by the emergency services, reports senior reporter Patrick Sawer.

Francis Dean, 47, said his sister Zainab told him on the phone she had been instructed to remain in her 14th floor flat with her two year old son Jeremiah by firefighters.

He told The Telegraph: "My sister called me to say there was a fire in the tower. I told her to leave by the stairs, but she said she had been told to stay inside her flat. That was in the early hours of today and I've not heard from her since. I fear the worst."

Mr Dean, who works for a distribution firm, said that at one stage a fire fighter borrowed his phone and spoke to Zainab.

"He told her to keep calm and that they were coming to get her. He kept saying that to her again and again," he said. "But then he handed me the phone and said to me 'Tell her you love her'. I knew then to fear the worst. The phone went dead and I couldn't talk to her."

Francis Dean's sister Zainab Credit: Paul Grover for the Telegraph

Mr Dean said: "I don't understand why she was told to stay where she was. I was urging her to escape by the stairs.

"I'm so upset. Jeremiah was a wonderful boy, always happy, always smiling. He loved playing football with me."

Others also told how their loved ones had been instructed to remain in their flats.

Jamal Ali, 28, said his aunt, Zainab Ali, had been told by police to stay in her flat but she had ignored them, fleeing to safety with her five children down the stairs.

"The police were telling her to stay inside, but she ran down the stairs with her kids and managed to get away - otherwise she'd be dead."

Mr Ali also said other relatives in the block had told him the fire alarm had only begun to sound 30 minutes after the fire started.

3:29PM

Miracle escape after 12 hours: Blind pensioner rescued after using jumper as SOS flag

A pensioner has been pictured being rescued by firefighters after a terrifying 12-hour wait during which he used his jumper as a makeshift SOS flag.

The man, thought to be in his 70s, is believed to have lived in the tower for 30 years and was seen praying at his window as he awaited help on the 11th floor.

Good Morning Britain filmed him as he waved a jumper and cried out for help. Presenters Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid said they felt "helpless" as they watched him and feared for his life.

However, he was seen being rescued by firefighters shortly after midday - around 12 hours after he was first trapped by the blaze.

The man was seen crying for help from his window high up in the tower block before he was rescued  Credit: GUILHEM BAKER/LNP/LEON NEAL/GETTY

3:16PM

Floral tribute: 'Justice has to be done... people before money'

Flowers had been placed beside the taped-off police cordon, which was being guarded by uniformed officers.

Attached to a mixed bouquet was a card with the message: "Love and prayers to the families and victims. Justice has to be done. People before money. RIP." 

A bunch of flowers are left as a tribute near the burning building  Credit: Carl Court/Getty

3:14PM

John Bercow offers MPs' condolences to Grenfell Tower victims

Speaker John Bercow has offered condolences on behalf of MPs to the victims of the "unimaginable and horrific disaster".

Mr Bercow also said MPs offered their "warmest and most effusive thanks" to the "magnificent" emergency services who responded to the huge fire.

He said it is not possible for Parliament to officially discuss the tragedy in the chamber as it has yet to officially convene following the General Election.

A meeting with a minister is expected to take place in the Palace of Westminster to enable questions from MPs, Mr Bercow added.

3:11PM

Jeremy Corbyn: Spending cuts might have contributed to fire

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has suggested spending cuts could have contributed to the deadly fire at Grenfell Tower.

He said "searching questions" need to be asked about what happened at the west London tower block, adding: "If you deny local authorities the funding they need, then there is a price that's paid."

Mr Corbyn told LBC Radio that calls for sprinklers to be installed in high-rise buildings after a fatal fire at Lakanal House in south London in 2009 had not been heeded. He said:

"Harriet Harman, who is the MP for Camberwell and Peckham, raised all these issues after that fire and ... demanded that sprinklers should be fitted to all of these buildings.

"I suspect they have not been in many places. I don't know all of the details for the whole country but, if you deny local authorities the funding they need, then there is a price to pay that's paid by the lack of safety facilities all over the country.

"I think there needs to be some very searching questions asked as quickly as possible in the aftermath of this fire."

3:07PM

Sports centre turned into refuge as generosity shines through tragedy

A sports complex near Grenfell Tower has become the epicentre of a vast relief effort following the devastating fire.

The Westway Sports and Fitness Centre was turned into a refuge for residents evacuated from the flats and left destitute by the blaze.

Gymnastics mats were laid out on the floor of its main hall, where organisers said those trying to process Tuesday night's events could rest.

Beds are laid out in the Westway Sports Centre Credit: Jack Hardy/PA

Throngs of volunteers poured through the doors of the centre all day, many armed with supplies and some pushing shopping trolleys.

Inside, tables sagged under the weight of donations, which ranged from food and drink to clothing and toiletries.

Representatives from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea also attended, to assist with housing and social services.

Provisions on tables weighed down by generosity Credit: Jack Hardy/PA

Due to the volume of donations, tennis courts next to the centre were also being used to house donations.

2:38PM

Mike Penning:  I have never seen a tower block fire move so fast

Former minister and ex-firefighter Mike Penning said: "People have been calling, I think probably rightly, for sprinklers to be installed for many, many years under many different governments.

"At the end of the day, what we have got to check is that the existing regulations have been adhered to."

The Tory MP told BBC Radio 4's World At One that the fire resulted in the "cladding and windows clearly burning", suggesting that the external cladding may have been a factor.

He added: "I have never seen a tower block fire move so fast in that sort of way, and from a very low vantage point as well.

"So the source of the fire will be very interesting when the investigators do that and what was the cause of the initial fire, whether it was electrical or, sadly, even criminal activity."

Firefighters target water jets at the building Credit: Heathcliff O'Malley for The Telegraph

2:28PM

'Children at the window screaming... then rooms would go up in flames'

James Wood, a 32-year-old graphic designer who lives opposite, watched the blaze tear through Grenfell Tower, reports Henry Bodkin.

He said survivors told him police and the fire brigade told residents to stay in their flats.

"After about half an hour, once they realised how bad it was, they told them to evacuate, but by then it was too late," he said.

"The most traumatic part was seeing the children at the window screaming for help. Then the rooms would just go up in flames.

"There was a woman hanging her baby out of the window, about mid way up the tower. She was crying out. She wanted to drop the baby and was trying to make sure there was a safety net.

"After a few hours you could see a few people had got together and moved into the very top left flat, all into one room. They were all at the window flashing their phones."

A trapped resident hangs a garment out of a window at Grenfell Tower to attract attention Credit: Matt Dunham/AP

2:08PM

Samantha Cameron felt 'totally helpless' for trapped families

Samantha Cameron, wife of the former prime minister, who lives close to the scene of the blaze, described the terrible scenes she witnessed, reports Senior Reporter Patrick Sawer.

Mrs Cameron said: “There was thick, thick smoke. We saw the flames because it is at the back of our house. You feel totally helpless for the families in the building. What is amazing it seeing the community come together and helping each other.”

It is understood Mrs Cameron joined dozens of local residents who donated food, drinks and clothing at emergency shelters for those who lost everything to the flames or have been evacuated from their homes.

1:53PM

Blaze has devastated our community, says newly-elected Labour MP

Kensington's newly-elected Labour MP has said the fire has "devastated our community". Emma Dent Coad said she had visited several support centres set up for those affected by the blaze. She said:

"The terrible events of last night and this morning have devastated our community... Our thoughts are with the family and friends who have experienced such tragic loss.

"We have already seen our community coming together in the face of this tragedy. Local people have been streaming into support centres with clothes, food and other supplies to help those affected.

"It is at times like these that we see the very best of our community, coming together in the face of such adversity."

Ms Dent Coad, who is a local councillor and a member of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, said she had raised concerns with the authority about fire safety at tower blocks in the area. She said:

"There have been a lot of concerns over the past few years on various fire issues. I have brought it up quite a few times. The blocks are of a certain age.

"Some of them have been refurbished, some haven't, and we have an ageing population."

Ms Dent Coad saw off Tory incumbent Victoria Borwick, overturning the former city deputy mayor's 7,000 majority from 2015 by just 20 votes in a large swing to the opposition.

Other MPs have shared their reaction to the blaze on Twitter:

1:50PM

'It's Blitz spirit': Community centres overwhelmed with donations 

Kind locals have come in great numbers to help out those affected by the fire, giving food, clothing and toiletries to those in need, reports Helena Horton.

Some of the places people are sheltering, including churches and other religious buildings, have had to turn away people because there are so many volunteers. They have said more help will be needed as the residents get back on their feet. Click here for more.

Sandwiches are handed out to local residents  Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

1:37PM

Latest pictures from Telegraph photographers at the scene

Melted window frames at Grenfell Tower Credit: Paul Grover for The Telegraph
A helicopter hovers over the burning tower Credit: Heathcliff O'Malley for The Telegraph
A deserted road close to the scene of the blaze Credit: Heathcliff O'Malley for The Telegraph

1:21PM

Rita Ora: 'This is my neighbourhood I can't believe this is happening'

Singer and former X Factor judge Rita Ora said she used to play in the Grenfell Tower block. She shared her horror on Instagram:

 

1:18PM

Grenfell Tower would have collapsed if built four years earlier, says expert

Grenfell Tower would have collapsed if had been built four years earlier, a structural engineering expert has claimed.

Dr John Knapton, emeritus professor of structural engineering at Newcastle University, said although there was "no guarantee" that the building would not fall down, it was "unlikely".

Building regulations changed in 1971 following a gas explosion at the high-rise Ronan Point in East London in which four people died, the only time a block of flats in London has collapsed.

Thick smoke billows from Grenfell Tower as the fire rages in the early hours Credit: NATALIE OXFORD/AFP

Grenfell Tower was completed in 1974, so would have needed to comply with strict new regulations which ensured buildings would not fall down in the event of a blast, or a major fire.  

However recent cladding works to the outside may have exacerbated the fire, according to experts at the University of Edinburgh. Click here to read more.

Grenfell Tower - side profile floor plan

1:12PM

Several firefighters suffer injuries in blaze

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton has revealed that "a number of firefighters" have suffered minor injuries in the blaze.

One of the 200 firefighters who helped to battle the blaze Credit: ANDY RAIN/EPA

1:04PM

'If we'd listened to them and stayed in the flat we'd have perished'

Nicky Paramasivan, who was in his seventh floor flat with his partner and child, said the advice issued to residents in the event of a fire was to stay in their flats.

"If we'd listened to them and stayed in the flat we'd have perished," he told the BBC. He said that after they fled the explosions from the flats included blue flames, suggesting gas.

"It's just horrendous. I'm just hoping there's not too many dead. It went right through. There weren't no stopping it."

Michael Paramasivan with his step daughter Thea Kavanagh, aged five. They escaped from the 7th floor Credit: Heathcliff O'Malley for The Telegraph

12:58PM

PM's new chief of staff accused of 'sitting on' fire safety review

Theresa May's new chief of staff is facing questions over his role in a delayed fire safety review in the wake of the Grenfell Tower blaze, reports Deputy Political Editor Steven Swinford.

Gavin Barwell, a former housing minister, has been accused of "sitting on" a review into building regulations at tower blocks after a deadly fire in South London in 2009.

Following a tower block fire at Lakanal House in south London in 2009, which claimed six lives, fire safety failings were uncovered in an investigation.

The failings included inadequate fire risk assessments and panels on the exterior walls not providing the required fire resistance. The coroner made a series of recommendations following the tragedy.

Some have been implemented, but a full review of building regulations has yet to take place. Mr Barwell said last year that he was committed to reviewing the specific part of building regulations that relate to fire safety.

A firefighter investigates a floor after the blaze engulfed Grenfell Tower Credit: Rick Findler/PA

However, the review has yet to be launched. Ronnie King, honorary administrative secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on fire safety, said MPs had also pressed for a review.

He said that the group had "strongly recommended" installing fire suppression systems and sprinklers in 4,000 similar tower blocks across the country.

He said: "The All-Party Group were looking at the issue of fire suppression in all the tower blocks with similar designs to this.

"And we understand that there are around 4,000 tower blocks that don't have fire sprinklers fitted into them.

"That was a recommendation, which was down to each local council and landlords to determine the appropriateness of this.

"We were strongly recommending this as the fire at Lakanal House spread within four minutes to the flat above and went on to kill six people regrettably.

"Our group recommended that due to the speed that the fire spread in Lakanal House, that building regulations should be reviewed. It's nearly 11 years since it has been reviewed. Successive ministers since 2013 have said they are still looking at it."

Gavin Barwell, Theresa May's chief of staff Credit: Leon Neal/Getty

12:42PM

Boxers shocked at inferno at tower block housing their former gym

Champion British boxers James DeGale and George Groves have spoken of their shock following the huge fire at the tower, which is home to the gym in which they both trained as amateurs.

DeGale, who won the Olympic title at Beijing 2008 and is now IBF super-middleweight champion, tweeted:

Groves, the current WBA super-middleweight champion, also tweeted a message as news of the fire in the 24-storey building broke overnight:

The Dale Youth Boxing Club, which produced both athletes, was upgraded during the £10 million refurbishment of the block, completed last year.

At the time, the developers said: "The work has provided the club with improved facilities that will hopefully produce many more champions of the future."

12:36PM

Ken Livingstone: 'We need very much tougher regulation'

Ken Livingstone, the former London mayor , told BBC Radio 5 Live: "We need to be much more rigorous in what we use in buildings that we're constructing.

"We need to re-examine all these buildings, 50 years on it's a very different world.

"They were built at a time when everyone was madly in love with great big tall buildings. But I think that the risk is worse now than it was then. We need very much tougher regulation."

12:25PM

Theresa May 'deeply saddened by tragic loss of life'

Prime Minister Theresa May is "deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life" in the Grenfell Tower fire, Downing Street said. A Number 10 spokesman said:

“The Prime Minister is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life in the Grenfell Tower and is being kept constantly updated on the situation.

“She has asked for a cross-Government meeting at the Civil Contingencies Secretariat to take place at 4pm to co-ordinate the response and ensure the Government is ready to assist the emergency services and local authorities as necessary.

“The PM’s thoughts are with all of those affected by this terrible incident and the emergency services, who are working tirelessly in very difficult circumstances.”

12:22PM

Twenty people in critical condition

After it was confirmed that at least six people have been killed in the tower block blaze, London Ambulance Service has given an update that 20 people injured are in a critical condition. A total of 64 people are being treated in hospital. Here's the full statement:

12:14PM

Londoners urged to 'use NHS wisely' as hospitals care for injured

Five London hospitals have received patients affected by the blaze. NHS England said no details were available on the condition of people taken to hospital.

The five hospitals are St Mary's, Chelsea and Westminster, Royal Free, St Thomas' and King's College Hospital.

A spokeswoman for NHS England London region said: "Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the tragic incident at the Grenfell tower block in Kensington.

"Our priority is to continue to work closely with the NHS and emergency services involved.

"We have tried-and-tested measures in place to manage this but we would also encourage Londoners to use NHS services wisely and seek advice from NHS 111 in the first instance."

Firefighters aim a water jet at the burning tower Credit: Paul Grover for The Telegraph

12:05PM

Tower refurbishment 'met all safety standards', says construction firm

Construction firm Rydon, which completed a refurbishment of Grenfell Tower in  2016, said it is "shocked to hear of the devastating fire" adding that the work "met all required building control, fire regulation and health & safety  standards". 

12:04PM

Video: Resident breaks down talking about people throwing children to safety

A resident of Grenfell Tower breaks down as he describes seeing people throw children to safety, and people jumping out of windows. pic.twitter.com/acsaRkj0aO

— Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) June 14, 2017

11:44AM

'A gentleman ran forward...': Baby thrown from 10th floor 'caught by man on ground'

Incredible stories are starting to emerge of how parents desperately tried to save their children from the blazing tower.

One witness claimed a baby was caught by a member of the public after being dropped from "the ninth or 10th floor" to waiting members of the public below. Samira Lamrani said:

"People were starting to appear at the windows, frantically banging and screaming. The windows were slightly ajar, a woman was gesturing that she was about to throw her baby and if somebody could catch her baby.

"Somebody did, a gentleman ran forward and managed to grab the baby. I could see people from all angles, banging and screaming for help.

"Us members of the public were reassuring them, telling them we've done what we can and that we've phoned 999, but obviously the look on their face was death.

"My daughter's friend said she observed an adult who made some sort of homemade parachute and tried to lower himself out of the window.

"The more I looked up, floor upon floor. Endless numbers of people. Mainly the kids, because obviously their voices, with their high pitched voices - that will remain with me for a long time. I could hear them screaming for their lives."

Click here to read more.

11:25AM

Statement from police warns death toll 'is likely to rise'

Commander Stuart Cundy, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "I can confirm six fatalities at this time but this figure is likely to rise during what will be a complex recovery operation over a number of days. Many others are receiving medical care."

He said it was likely to be some time before police are able to identify the victims, adding that it was too early to speculate on the cause of the fire.

11:16AM

Breaking: At least six people have died in fire

Six people have died in the Grenfell Tower fire but the death toll is expected to rise, Scotland Yard said.

11:03AM

Fire crews continue to attempt to bring blaze under control

Amid ongoing searches of the building, fire crews are continuing to try to bring the blaze under control. Here's the latest picture from the fire brigade: 

11:00AM

Crowdfunding page raises more than £20,000 in just hours

Several crowdfunding pages have been set up for those affected by the blaze, with one raising more than £20,000 within hours.

The appeal, on the JustGiving website, was set up by an account in the name of Haley Yearwood, with the note: "I am a teacher at a local school and know that many of our students and their families will be affected by this awful fire.

"It is a really close-knit community and the trauma will be felt for years to come. I'd like to help in any way possible."

10:42AM

Survivors 'still being found in tower block'

Nine hours after the Grenfell Tower blaze began, rescuers are reportedly continuing to find people alive inside. 

10:40AM

Gas explosion, faulty wiring, cladding on outside? The theories fire chiefs will examine 

The cause of the horrific blaze is not yet known and firefighters are still trying to rescue victims from it - but already several theories are beginning to emerge, reports Leon Watson. Click here to read about the theories fire chiefs will be investigating.

Smoke billows into the summer sky in west London Credit: Barcroft Media/Paul Davey

10:30AM

Did a faulty fridge cause the Grenfell Tower blaze?

Witnesses described hearing one distressed resident apparently telling neighbours his faulty fridge caused the blaze.

Samira Lamrani, 38, who lives on nearby Hurstway Walk, said: "When I arrived on the scene he (the resident) was amongst the people that were standing there.

"He was just beside himself. He was just as surprised at how quickly the fire spread as anybody else.

"I could hear him saying that he contacted the emergency services immediately and they reassured him everything would be under control within a short period of time, and obviously it wasn't."

She said she thought the fire started on the second floor.

Flames engulf the block in west London Credit: GIULIO THUBURN/AFP

10:27AM

Facebook activates safety check feature

Facebook has activated its safety check feature after the fire in Grenfell Tower.

The feature allows people in the affected area to mark themselves as safe, and check on their friends and family.

Since the blaze in west London, where there have been multiple deaths, users which Facebook thinks are in the area have been invited to a page called "The Fire in London, United Kingdom".

Users can mark themselves as safe or choose the option "doesn't apply to me" if they are not near the incident.

Initially created in 2014 to be used during natural disasters, the safety check feature was expanded to be used in crises such as the 2015 Paris terror attacks.

In the UK, the feature was used after the Westminster attacks, the Manchester bombings and the incident at Borough Market, London.

Facebook | What is safety check?

10:22AM

The missing: Children and elderly among those unaccounted for

People have been desperately searching for their loved ones who live in the building as people appeared to be trapped inside.

Children are believed to be among those missing, as school students search for their friends. Click here for everything we know about the missing.

Clockwise from left: 13-year-old Jessie, Khadija Saye and Ali Yawar Jafari are among the reported missing 

10:03AM

Who owns and manages Grenfell Tower?

The 1970s-built tower block is managed by the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) on behalf of Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council.

It was built in 1974, and Roydon Ltd won a £10m contract to refurbish the building in 2014. 

The work, which was completed in May 2016, included the installation of insulated exterior cladding, new double glazed windows and a new communal heating system.

9:52AM

Aerial video shows scale of huge tower block blaze

9:42AM

Update from fire brigade: Tower block 'continues to be safe'

London Fire Brigade are just giving us an update - Commissioner Dany Cotton has said:

  • Fire crews were on scene within six minutes
  • Around 200 firefighters were on the scene of the blaze
  • An investigation into the cause is beginning
  • A structural engineer is monitoring the stability of the building
  • The building "continues to be safe for our crews to go and work in"
  • "We send our sincere condolences to everyone involved in this really terrible incident"
  • "This is still at a dynamic stage - it would be wrong to speculate on the cause"
  • "We rescued a large number of people from very early on"

9:27AM

Sadiq Khan: Questions need to be answered

London Mayor Sadiq Khan told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's very distressing, not just for those of us watching as lay people, but also very distressing for the emergency services.

"We declared a major incident very early, which meant not just the fire service but also the London Ambulance Service, the police and the others were involved at the scene."

More than 100 police officers were on scene, alongside 100 medics and 250 firefighters, he said.

Pressed on reports that residents had been advised to stay inside their flats in the event of a fire, Mr Khan said: "Thankfully residents didn't stay in their flats and fled to safety."

Mr Khan added: "One of the concerns that we have is it's a 24-storey building but for obvious reasons, with the scale of the fire, our experts weren't able to reach all the way to the top, so of course these are questions that need to be answered as soon as possible." 

9:23AM

Latest pictures as firefighting operation continues

More than 200 firefighters and officers are still at the scene of the Grenfell Tower blaze, including 40 fire engines and a range of other specialist vehicles. As the major incident continues, these are the latest pictures reaching us of the firefighting operation:

Firefighters carry shields to protect themselves from tower block debris Credit: ANDY RAIN/EPA
Rescue workers at the scene of the block Credit: ANDY RAIN/EPA
Firefighters at the scene of the blaze Credit: Matt Dunham/AP

9:07AM

'We could hear people screaming 'help me!': Harrowing witness accounts 

Witnesses have told how they were woken by screaming in the early hours.

Joanna O'Connor told Sky News: "At about 2am woken up by screaming, sirens and helicopters. We came outside and were confronted with the building that was completely engulfed in flames.

"It was a real shock and there were hundreds of people lining the streets, we could still hear screaming from the building and people were milling around in shock crying.

"One of our neighbours, her sister, husband and children were in the building, it was their neighbours' flat that caught fire. So it's very close to us, we've got neighbours whose families are in that building."

Another local resident, called Tamara, told BBC News: "Around 12.30/1am my mum called me and said there was a fire outside. By the time I got there the whole right side of the building was on fire, the whole thing was engulfed in flames.

"We could hear people screaming 'Help me' so me and my brother, with some other people who live in the area, ran over to the estate to where you could still get underneath it and there were people just throwing their kids out saying 'Save my children'.

"The fire crew, ambulance and police couldn't do anything, they couldn't get in, and they were just telling them to stay where they are, and we'll come and get you. But things quickly escalated beyond measure and they couldn't go back in and get them.

"Within another 15 minutes the whole thing was up in flames and there were still people at their windows shouting 'Help me'. You could see the fire going into their houses and engulfing the last room that they were in."

A man who lived on the 17th floor of the block, identified as Methrob, told LBC Radio: "I heard the fire trucks and so I was alerted that something was going on.

"There was no fire alarm in the building, we don't have an integrated fire alarm system. I went outside my house and I could smell the smoke. I looked out my window, I leaned over and I could see the fire blazing up.

"I woke up my auntie who was sleeping, it was about 1.15am, and we started to make our way down. I warned a couple of my neighbours, the ones nearest to me, and we basically went as fast as we could."

He said the fire was inside one apartment, but added the "real issue was when it caught fire to the cladding outside. That's when I noticed the fire from outside when I looked out the window.

"By the time that we got downstairs, the fire had gone all the way up and it was just about reaching our windows on the 17th floor. The whole one side of the building was on fire. The cladding went up like a matchstick."

8:53AM

Witness reports seeing several people die in blaze

Witness Joe D told Vanessa Feltz on BBC Radio London he saw several people die.

"I saw jumpers. I saw one jumper jump out, he landed on a fire patrol officer. His leg was dismembered from his body and there was another guy who died in the fire exit.

"Afterwards I spoke to the fire officer, the same one. He had been working right through the night and he said they could only get to the 11th floor, that was as far as they got.

"So in my opinion everyone north of the 11th floor had real trouble getting out."

Smoke billows from the tower block Credit: Rick Findler/PA

8:23AM

Number of people taken to hospital rises to 50

London Ambulance Service has released a statement saying that paramedics have now taken more than 50 patients to five hospitals.

8:16AM

Latest travel updates, road and Underground closures

As a cordon remains in place around the burning tower block, here is the travel information you need to know this morning.

8:03AM

Fire chief: I have never ever seen anything of this scale

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton told reporters at the scene: "This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale."

7:52AM

Breaking: 'Number of fatalities' at Grenfell Tower blaze

There have been a "number of fatalities" at the fire at Grenfell Tower in west London, London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton has told reporters as she described the blaze as an "unprecedented incident". She said the cause of the fire is not yet known.

7:40AM

TV's George Clarke: I'm 100 metres away and absolutely covered in ash

George Clarke, who presents Channel 4 show Amazing Spaces, told Radio 5 Live earlier this morning: "I was in bed and heard 'beep, beep, beep' and thought, 'I'll get up and run downstairs as quickly as I could'.

"I thought it might be a car alarm outside and saw the glow through the windows. I'm getting covered in ash, that's how bad it is. I'm 100 metres away and I'm absolutely covered in ash.

"It's so heartbreaking, I've seen someone flashing their torches at the top level and they obviously can't get out."

7:35AM

Grenfell Tower 'had just been refurbished'

Grenfell Tower is understood to have undergone refurbishment in the last few months.

Mohammed, one of the residents who lives in the building, told Sky News: "It had just had a cosmetic refurbishment.

"We've had fires in the building before and they've never spread like this before."

He said that the building had an insulation cladding added to the outside.

7:29AM

Residents report fire alarms did not go off in building

Some residents of Grenfell Tower have claimed that fire alarms did not go off inside the building.  Paul Munakr, who lives on the seventh floor and managed to escape, told the BBC: "I managed to get out the building, not by a fire alarm, or something like that, it was by people down below screaming to people, don't jump, don't jump off the building.

 "Now, honestly I don't know for certain if people jumped off the building to get away from the fire, but the main thing for me with this incident is the fact that the fire alarms didn't go off in the building."

7:25AM

Action group: We warned of 'catastrophe' - but warnings 'fell on deaf ears'

An action group at Grenfell tower have said their warnings fell on "deaf ears" after highlighting safety concerns about the block.

The cause of the blaze is not yet known, but a blog post from the Grenfell Action Group from November 2016 said "only a catastrophic event" would expose issues residents had.

The group said there was one entry and exit to Grenfell Tower during improvement works at the block in Latimer Road and it had issues with evacuation procedures at the building.

Following the fire, the group posted: "All our warnings fell on deaf ears and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time."

The group claimed access to the building was "severely restricted" for emergency services and other vehicles and that residents were advised to stay in their flats in case of fire.

7:22AM

Smoke still seen pouring from building

An acrid column of smoke could be seen rising from the building shortly before 7am.

The charred structure still had pockets of flame rising from several storeys as the desperate effort to bring the blaze under control continued.

Schoolboy Omar Kalam, 11, was standing anxiously at the emergency service cordon with father Walid, 44.

"My brother has friends and they live in there," he said. "I'm not sure if they are all right yet."

Flames visible behind charred window frames as smoke pours from the tower block Credit: FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA/EPA

Parents from nearby Kensington Aldridge Academy, where Omar attends, had been told the school was closed, his father said.

7:22AM

Emergency number for concerned friends and family

The Metropolitan Police have set up a casualty bureau for anyone concerned about their friends and family on 0800 0961 233.

6:40AM

30 nearby flats evacuated

London Fire Brigade says around 30 flats near the scene have been evacuated and a cordon is in place.

6:35AM

Huge challenge for firefighters

Emergency personnel operate next to the fire at the Grenfell Tower Credit: EPA
Firefighters try to tackle the fire Credit: Reuters

6:31AM

Community rallying round 

6:29AM

Fire continues to rage

6:26AM

Residents reported missing

The BBC reports that "a significant number of people" are unaccounted for.

6:23AM

30 patients taken to hospital

The London Ambulance service says it has taken 30 patients to hospital so far and they remain on the scene.

6:21AM

'Several hundred would have been in there'

Kensington and Chelsea Council leader Nick Paget-Brown described the blaze as a "very, very severe fire". He told Sky News:

"Clearly it's an absolutely devastating fire.

"Several hundred would have been in there. It's a question of establishing how many people were in there at the time of the fire.

"I'm really not in any position to answer any questions about the structure.

"Clearly there's a lot more work to do to evacuate the building and to establish how safe it is."

6:11AM

Sadiq Khan monitoring situation

 

6:02AM

 'I peeked out and saw fire engines everywhere'

One survivor inside the building told Sky.

"It was about one o clock. I woke up to pee. I heard some unusual noise outside. I peeked out and saw fire, police, fire engines everywhere.

"I asked the office what was going on and he said 'fire, get out!'.

Flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London Credit: Reuters
Flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road Credit: Reuters

5:53AM

Pictures from the ground

Firefighters work at the scene of a fire in west London.  Credit: EPA
A person peers out of a window from the Grenfell Tower building Credit: AP

5:47AM

'I watched a woman holding her baby out the window'

Jody Martin said he got to the scene as the first fire engine was arriving at Grenfell Tower. He told the BBC:

"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 added that given the thickness of the smoke, he would be surprised if anyone could have left the building without assistance.

"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'."

5:18AM

Transport for London issue update

Transport for London said there was no service between Hammersmith and Edgware Road on the Circle and Hammersmith and City lines, while the police said the A40 was closed in both directions, owing to the fire.

5:16AM

Osborne tweets picture of blaze

George Osborne, former chancellor and now editor of the Evening Standard, has tweeted a picture of the blaze from near his home.

"Just seen this awful tower block fire near my home in W London. My prayers with those affected & heroes tackling it."

5:04AM

Ambulance service assessing 'level and nature of injuries'

The London Ambulance Service has issued an update.

5:01AM

In pictures

Flames and smoke can be seen in the distance from the Latimer Road block of flats Credit: Reuters
Flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road Credit: Reuters
In this image made from video provided by Mischa Saag, onlookers watch the building on fire Credit: AP
Dawn is breaking as the fire continues to rage Credit: AP

4:43AM

Sadiq Khan declares major incident

London mayor Sadiq Khan says a "major incident" has been declared.

4:42AM

Nearby residents told to evacuate

Residents nearby are apparently being told to leave their flats because of falling debris.

4:40AM

Ambulance service sends specialist unit

The London Ambulance says it had sent a "number of resources" to the scene, including its Hazardous Area Response Team. 

4:25AM

Fears building could collapse

Actor and writer Tim Downie, who lives around 600 metres from the scene in Latimer Road, told the Press Association he feared the block could collapse.

"It's horrendous. The whole building is engulfed in flames. It's gone. It's just a matter of time before this building collapses.

"I just hope they have got everyone out.

"The first I knew was the noise of sirens, helicopters and shouting. I saw it engulfed in flames.

"People have been bringing water, clothes, anything they've got to help, out to the cordon.

"I have seen people coming out in their bedclothes - it's just very distressing."

4:14AM

Firefighters working 'in very difficult conditions'

London Fire Brigade assistant commissioner Dan Daly said:

"Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus are working extremely hard in very difficult conditions to tackle this fire.

"This is a large and very serious incident and we have deployed numerous resources and specialist appliances."

4:13AM

Firefighters talking to those trapped

Witnesses report hearing people still trapped in building.

4:11AM

'Never experienced such terror in my life'

4:05AM

Police say a number of people being treated for a range of injuries

The Metropolitan Police have updated the situation on Twitter.

 

4:01AM

'The whole building seems to have been engulfed'

Victoria Goldsmith, who lives nearby, told Sky News.  “The whole building seems to have been engulfed. It has spread all the way to the top.

“There were two people trapped on the top, they were using their mobile phones.

“One woman was having a panic attack,: she added. The woman had seen everything she owned had gone up in flames.

3:58AM

'The building has gone'

Tim Downie, who lives nearby, said: "The fire has spread to all the building. The whole building has been engulfed. It has gone."

He added: "The building is pretty much burned out. It is gutted.

"I have never seen anything like it, the smell, the burning, the heat is extraordinary."

People living nearby rushed to the scene with clothes and shoes to provide help for those who had been forced to evacuate the building.

3:41AM

"Screams for help"

Fabio Bebber wrote on Twitter:

"More screams for help as the fire spreads to another side of the building.

"We can see how quick the fire spreads via the external panels. It's unbearable hearing someone screaming for their lives at £grenfelltower."

3:39AM

Bedsheets 'used to escape'

Some residents were reported to have used bedsheets to make their escape from the 27-storey building.

Firefighters gained access to the block, which houses hundreds of residents. Those inside were asked to shine torches or their mobile phones to help the rescue services.

Those inside were urged not to panic and cover their mouths with wet towels  as they made their escape.

One witness told  MailOnline:

''Sirens flying up and down the road and police helicopter hovering for nearly 2 hours has been the noise tonight. Terrible."

3:38AM

Flames engulf tower

Jackson Harries, a photographer who lives in the area, has posted photos showing what looks like the whole building up in flames.

 

3:35AM

Fire started near top of building

The London Fire Brigade have posted some images that show the scale of the blaze in Grenfell Tower.

It said the fire started from the second to top floor of the 27-storey building.

 

3:32AM

'Families trying to find each other'

Celeste Thomas, who lives the scene, said:

"Police moving everyone back. I literally live across the road. Hundreds of people outside. Residents and families trying to find each other.

'Police have moved everyone back out of direct sight but can hear cracking and debris falling."