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British leader seeks fire inquiry; German building evacuated

Associated Press logo Associated Press 27/06/2017 By SYLVIA HUI and DANICA KIRKA, Associated Press
Workers remove cladding from Whitebeam Court, in Pendleton, Manchester, Monday June 26, 2017. The list of high-rise apartment towers in Britain that have failed fire safety tests grew to 60, officials said Sunday, revealing the mounting challenge the government faces in the aftermath of London's Grenfell Tower fire tragedy. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP) © The Associated Press Workers remove cladding from Whitebeam Court, in Pendleton, Manchester, Monday June 26, 2017. The list of high-rise apartment towers in Britain that have failed fire safety tests grew to 60, officials said Sunday, revealing the mounting challenge the government faces in the aftermath of London's Grenfell Tower fire tragedy. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

LONDON — Britain's prime minister said Tuesday there must be a "major national investigation" of potentially flammable cladding on high-rise towers, while a German city evacuated an 11-story building because of safety concerns prompted by the fatal fire in London.

Theresa May's comments came hours before authorities in Wuppertal opted to evacuate an apartment block because of concerns over exterior panels similar to the ones used on London's Grenfell Tower, where at least 79 people perished.

Wuppertal officials said Tuesday the fire risk at the building had been reassessed following the June 14 fire, the dpa news agency reported.

Authorities in Britain, meanwhile, continued to test samples of building materials for flammability. All the samples submitted so far — coming from 95 buildings around England — have failed fire safety standards.

The national testing was ordered after flammable cladding was blamed for the rapid spread of the Grenfell Tower inferno.

The aluminum composite panels have been used for decades to help insulate buildings and improve their appearance, but the Grenfell tragedy has prompted hard questions about their regulation.

The government on Tuesday appointed an independent expert advisory panel to make recommendations on any immediate safety measures necessary.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said he wanted the public to be confident everything possible is being done as local officials scramble to prevent a similar tragedy.

Police on Tuesday formally identified a 5-year-old boy as one of youngest victims of the disaster. Isaac Paulous died of inhaling fire fumes, Westminster Coroner's Court officer Eric Sword said Monday.

Isaac, who lived with his family on the apartment tower's 18th floor, perished as his family tried to escape the blaze. The child's body was found on the building's 13th floor and had to be identified through dental records.

"Isaac our beloved son was taken from us when he was only 5 years old," his family said in a statement released by police. "We will all miss our kind, energetic, generous little boy."

Coroner Fiona Wilcox said that 18 of the victims have so far been formally identified. Work on identifying the others is complex and ongoing, she said.

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