A charred housing block in the north Kensington area of west London stands as a grotesque symbol of human tragedy and public shame. Just past midnight on 14 June, a blaze sparked in a kitchen on the fourth floor of Grenfell Tower swept upwards with alarming speed and ferocity. Residents above, many of them quite recent immigrants from the Arab world and Africa, were trapped in their flats, or tried to descend by the building’s single stairwell. Helpless panic gave way to agonising slow death by smoke inhalation or burning. By Sunday evening, the number confirmed as dead or missing was approaching sixty. Only painstaking forensic work of the kind required after 9/11 will identify the exact toll.
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