Inquiry into deadly Grenfell Tower fire starts

A judge-led inquiry aims to establish the causes of the fire in West London last year, which killed 72 people.

    Officials say 72 people died in the fire but activists say the number is higher [Henry Nicholls/Reuters]
    Officials say 72 people died in the fire but activists say the number is higher [Henry Nicholls/Reuters]

    An inquiry into a deadly fire at a residential tower block in London last year has started with judges set to consider the factors that led to the blaze.

    Officials say 72 people died on June 14 last year at Grenfell Tower in the west London district of Kensington.

    The investigation, which is set to last 18 months, will look at how local authorities responded to the fire, as well as the UK's regulations for high rise buildings.

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    Some survivors are critical because the inquiry will not investigate wider issues around social housing but the judge leading the inquiry has sought to calm their worries.

    Judge Martin Moore-Bick said he and his team "were determined to provide the answers" that the families were after.

    The start of the inquiry on Monday follows almost two weeks of personal tributes from friends and family aiming to ensure that the victims, who ranged from an 84-year-old woman to a stillborn premature baby are not forgotten during the course of the inquiry.

    Some residents accuse officials in Kensington and Chelsea, one of London's richest boroughs, of ignoring their safety concerns because the publicly owned tower was home to a largely immigrant and working-class population.

    Police say they are considering individual or corporate manslaughter charges in the blaze, but no one has been charged yet.

    Grenfell United, a group representing survivors and bereaved families, said the inquiry was "the beginning of a long road to justice".

    The group, which accuses local authorities and the government of failing to heed residents' safety warnings, said "the scale of the tragedy has devastated our lives and our community. What makes it even worse for us is the knowledge that these deaths were completely avoidable".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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