LONDON >> Public fury over the London high-rise fire is mounting as exhausted London firefighters continue their grim search Saturday for victims of the inferno that killed at least 30 people.
Residents and neighbors are demanding answers for how the blaze spread so quickly after reports said contractors installed a cheaper, less flame-resistant type of exterior paneling in a renovation of Grenfell Tower that ended in May 2016.
Around 70 people are missing, according to Britain’s Press Association, and identification of the victims is proving very difficult.
Queen Elizabeth II marked her official birthday Saturday by saying Britain remains “resolute in the face of adversity” after the horrendous fire and recent extremist attacks in London and Manchester.
The 91-year-old monarch said it is “difficult to escape a very somber mood” on what is normally a day of celebration. She and Prince William visited fire survivors today.
Rescue personnel have had difficulty reaching the top floors of the charred, 24-story tower. Officials warn that no further survivors are likely to be found.
Hundreds have been left homeless by the blaze, putting more pressure on officials in a city already plagued by a chronic housing shortage.
The government has promised a full public inquiry, but that has done little to a sense of frustration at the lack of information about how the fire moved so quickly to engulf the building.
Engineering experts and fire safety specialists believe the building’s exterior cladding may have quickly fueled the blaze, overwhelming fire protection devices. British officials have ordered a review of other buildings that have had similar renovations.
The horrific fire early Wednesday morning has put increased pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May and her senior ministers at a time when her authority has been weakened by an election that saw her Conservative Party lost its majority in Parliament. May was jeered after she made a visit to the community today.
The tragedy has provoked a gigantic response from nearby communities that have donated food and shelter to the victim. More than 3 million pounds ($3.8 million) has been raised for the victims, and the British government has announced a 5 million-pound ($6.3 million) emergency fund.
Many of the displaced are living in churches and community centers. There is ample food and water, but very little privacy or proper bedding.
Scuffles broke out near the Kensington and Chelsea town hall offices today as demonstrators chanting “We want justice!” surged toward the doors.
Some residents had warned months ago that the tower represented a dangerous fire risk. They say their complaints were ignored.