Meanwhile twelve people are known to have died so far in a horrific fire in a London block of flats. The number of deaths is expected to rise.

Firefighters rescued 65 people from Grenfell Tower in north Kensington, after they were called at 00:54 BST.

Eyewitnesses said people were trapped in tower block, screaming for help and yelling for their children to be saved.

Policing and fire minister Nick Hurd said checks are now planned on similar tower blocks.

Claire Heald reports from the scene.

Fire crews are fewer, police remain in force. The local MP has been. NHS workers, counsellors, volunteers come and go.

You hear snatched conversations – who is missing, who has news? And wails and crying.

I talked to carers who worked in the tower – and were swapping anecdotes about the clients with limited mobility, agoraphobia even, or multiple children who they know would have struggled to manage escape.

Some are really angry and have questions – whether they’re talking about inequality in London’s richest borough, or cladding and fire stairs.

I read somewhere that the cladding, which was added in a recent renovation, was to make the tower more attractive to the rich neighbors. Grenfell Tower isn’t a posh block of condos, it’s council flats.

The Guardian talked to an expert:

“A disaster waiting to happen,” is how the architect and fire expert Sam Webb describes hundreds of tower blocks across the UK, after the fire at Grenfell Tower in Kensington that has left at least six people dead. “We are still wrapping postwar high-rise buildings in highly flammable materials and leaving them without sprinkler systems installed, then being surprised when they burn down.”

Webb surveyed hundreds of residential tower blocks across the country in the early 1990s and presented a damning report to the Home Office, which revealed that more than half of the buildings didn’t meet basic fire safety standards. He said: “We discovered a widespread breach of safety, but we were simply told nothing could be done because it would ‘make too many people homeless’.

“I really don’t think the building industry understands how fire behaves in buildings and how dangerous it can be. The government’s mania for deregulation means our current safety standards just aren’t good enough.”

If you look at video of the fire it’s absolutely horrifying – the tower is blazing as if it were a torch soaked in gasoline.

Webb advised the legal team for the families in the case of the last major tower block blaze in London, in July 2009, when a fire raged through Lakanal House, a 14-storey block built in 1958 in Camberwell, south-east London. Six people were killed, among them two children and a baby, when a fire caused by a faulty television in a ninth-floor home gutted the building.

An inquest into the deaths found the fire spread unexpectedly fast, both laterally and vertically, trapping people in their homes, with the exterior cladding panels burning through in just four and a half minutes. As with Grenfell Tower, the official advice was for people to remain in their homes in the event of a blaze. The inquest concluded that years of botched renovations had removed fire-stopping material between flats and communal corridors, allowing a blaze to spread, and that the problem was not picked up in safety inspections carried out by Southwark council. The council was investigated over possible corporate manslaughter charges, but eventually fined £570,000 under fire safety laws.

This is London. Not Lagos, not Dhaka, not New Orleans, but London.

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