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Grenfell Tower fire dead rises to 79

Sky News logo Sky News 19-06-2017

The number of people killed in the Grenfell Tower disaster has risen to 79 - but that figure could still change, police say.

Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said five people had been formally identified - but warned that some victims may never be identified

"The awful reality is, as I've said before, is that due to the intensity of the fire and the devastation within Grenfell Tower that we may not be able to identify everybody that died," he said.

"We have been from the top to the bottom of Grenfell Tower.

"The search operation will be painstaking and having been in there myself it's really hard to describe the devastation that the fire has caused."

The Metropolitan Police has released footage showing the "indescribable" damage caused by the fire, which ripped through the 24-storey tower last week.

© Getty

Mr Cundy said the death toll - which increased from 58 - could still change, but not as significantly as it has in recent days.

"I believe there may be people who were in Grenfell Tower that people may not know are missing and may not have realised they were in there on the night," he said.

"Equally, there may be people who thankfully managed to escape the fire and for whatever reason have not let their family and friends know that they are safe."

Residents observe a minute's silence near Grenfell Tower Residents observe a minute's silence near Grenfell Tower

The latest figures from NHS England show that 17 patients are now being treated in four London hospitals. Of these, nine remain in critical care. Mr Cundy said five people who were reported missing had now been found safe and well.

Mr Cundy said said the search and recovery operation was ongoing in the burnt-out tower.

"Sadly, for many families, they have lost more than one family member and my heart truly goes out to them. This is an incredibly distressing time for all of them," he said.

© Getty

He promised an "exhaustive" criminal investigation that would also look at a major refurbishment of the tower completed last year.

"If I identify... an issue that is a risk to public safety, we will be sharing that immediately with the relevant authorities," he said.

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