The fire that swept through a 27-storey west London tower block in just 15 minutes after a fridge exploded could be one of the worst in British history amid fears nobody on the top three floors survived.
Six people are known to have died after fire engulfed Grenfell Tower in White City at 1am today but Scotland Yard says the death toll is expected to rise significantly.
A community leader working to locate victims, who asked not to be named, revealed that nobody who lived on the top three residential floors may have survived.
He said: 'We have a list of missing people - there are so many. It's possible there are more than 50, possibly hundreds'.
Police would not confirm how many people are unaccounted for because the building is still on fire 12 hours after it started.
At the height of the blaze petrified residents were seen throwing themselves and their children out of windows to avoid being burned to death - others made ropes by tying bed sheets together or using them as makeshift parachutes.
But a baby tossed from the 'ninth or 10th floor' of the building housing 600 people was caught by a member of the public and survived with only broken bones and bruises, a witness has said.
The trapped, some of whom are still inside, were heard begging for their lives while waving white towels, torches and mobile phones to attract the attention of the 200 firefighters who started storming the building within six minutes of the 999 call.
Those who managed to flee said it was 'like hell on earth' inside as they scrambled over dead bodies and claimed there was no working fire alarm, sprinklers failed and the only staircase out was blocked.
Grenfell's own community action group called for the tower to be pulled down four years ago over 'appalling' fire safety in the building and said today their repeated warnings to landlord Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) fell on 'deaf ears'.
KCTMO completed a £10million refurbishment last year and the new cladding encasing the block originally built in 1974 'went up like a match', one resident has said.
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.'
Fire crews are searching the tower and Mr Cundy added: 'I do anticipate that there may be people within that building that are as yet unaccounted for.'
NHS England said 74 people are being treated in six hospitals across the capital, of whom 20 are in critical care.
Mr Cundy said it is likely to be some time before police can identify the victims, adding that it is too early to speculate on the cause of the fire.
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.
London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton told reporters: 'This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale.'
Grenfell Tower was built in 1974 and contains 120 flats thought to be home to between 400 and 600 people.
Last modified onWednesday, 14 June 2017 13:03
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