The number of people killed or presumed dead in the London high-rise fire has risen to 80.
The final death toll may not be known for months, British police said at a grim briefing.
Metropolitan Police detective superintendent Fiona McCormack said police were doing everything possible to establish who was in Grenfell Tower when it caught fire on June 14. They have been hobbled by an inaccurate list from the tenants’ management organisation in charge of the public housing tower, she said.
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McCormack said officers and firefighters have searched all 129 apartments, but the intensity of the flames made locating and identifying remains especially difficult. Police counselling teams are preparing family members for the possibility that not all of the dead will be identified.
“We are working very hard to identify everyone who died in the fire, but the tragic reality is that due to the intense heat of the fire there are some people who we may never identify,” the detective said.
McCormack, who is leading the wide-ranging police investigation, said it is far too early to know if any criminal charges will be brought in the case.
She said records have been taken from some 60 companies that were involved in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower. The renovations completed last year have been a focus of the investigation because they involved installing cladding that quickly spread a fire that started in a refrigerator along the outside of the building.
The briefing by McCormack and Commander Stuart Cundy shed light on the difficulty of ascertaining who was in the building without a viable list.
Of the tower’s 129 apartments, police have spoken to people who were in 106. They have since determined that 18 people from those apartments are confirmed or presumed dead.
Police believe roughly 62 people in the remaining 23 apartments perished, but they expect the figure to rise as the search continues and more information from survivors comes in.
Exterior cladding panels added during a recent refurbishment of Grenfell have been blamed for the rapid spread of the blaze.
The company that supplied the cladding says it will stop global sales of plastic-filled aluminium panels.