The 24-storey block, which is still on fire, looks at risk of collapsing

6 muertos hasta ahora en incendio de torre de viviendas en Londres (Español/English + Video)

No se ha confirmado aún la causa del incendio
No se ha confirmado aún la causa del incendio

Los bomberos de Londres luchan por controlar un incendio de enormes proporciones que devora la Torre Grenfell, una torre de viviendas del centro-oeste de la capital de Reino Unido, y rescatar a los vecinos que se cree aún siguen atrapados en el edificio.

Esto es lo que se sabe hasta el momento:

La tragedia dejó al menos 6 muertos, pero “es probable que la cifra aumente”, confirmó el comandante de la Policía Metropolitana, Stuart Cundy.   74 personas han sido llevadas a cinco hospitales de Londres y 20 están en estado crítico

Los bomberos continúan la operación de rescate.   Los testigos aseguran varios vecinos siguen atrapados en la Torre Grenfell.   El edificio tiene más de 24 plantas con 120 apartamentos, y se cree que vivían en él 500 personas

Los heridos rescatados pasan de 90, 24 de ellos en estado crítico
Los heridos rescatados pasan de 90, 24 de ellos en estado crítico

La policía fue avisada poco después de la 1:15 de la madrugada local (0:15 GMT) de un “gran fuego” en esta torre de viviendas de Kensington, no lejos del área de Notting Hill.   El departamento de bomberos desplazó al lugar unos 200 efectivos en 40 camiones.

El Servicio de Ambulancias de Londres informó que 50 personas fueron trasladadas a 5 hospitales de la capital británica y que unos 100 médicos están dedicados a atender a los afectados por el incidente.    Varias de estas personas están siendo tratadas por haber inhalado humo, según dijo la policía.

Algunos de los testigos de la tragedia dicen que varios vecinos, atrapados en el edificio, trataron de salir por las ventadas y que tiraron a varios niños de ellas con la intención de salvarlos.

Tanto el revestimiento del edificio, recientemente reformado, así como un refrigerador que explotó han sido mencionados por los vecinos como posibles desencadenantes del fuego.

Sin embargo, el jefe bomberos Dany Cotton aclaró que todavía no se conoce qué causó las llamas, e insistió en que decir lo contrario sería especular.

Cotton describió el incendio “sin precedentes”. “Nunca vi (un incendio) de tales dimensiones en mis 29 años de carrera”, declaró.

Por su parte, el periodista de la BBC Andy Moore explicó que ardió prácticamente todo el edificio y que los bomberos temen que se derrumbe.

Simon Lederman, también periodista de la BBC, dijo que la torre podía verse quemándose “desde kilómetros de distancia” y que “un número significativo de personas” estaban desaparecidas.

El alcalde de Londres, Sadiq Khan, dijo que el incendio en la Torre Grenfell se declaró como un “incidente serio”.

Los testigos del incendio dijeron que han visto luces – presuntamente de teléfonos móviles o de antorchas – parpadeando en la parte superior del bloque de pisos.

Otros aseguraron que varios de los vecinos trataron de salir por las ventanas y que tiraron a niños de ellas para intentar salvarlos del fuego.

“Vimos caer restos del edificio, escuchamos explosiones, y oímos el sonido del vidrio que se rompe”, explicó Andy Moore.

El incendio ha consumido el edificio hasta el centro y no había sido controlado aún esta mañana
El incendio ha consumido el edificio hasta el centro y no había sido controlado aún esta mañana

“La policía sigue ampliando al zona acordonada, ante el temor de que el edificio se derrumbe”, añadió.

Dan Daly, oficial de la Brigada de Bomberos de Londres, dijo que los efectivos están “trabajando muy duro en condiciones muy difíciles para hacer frente a este incendio”.

“Es un incidente serio y muy grave y hemos desplegado numerosos recursos y unidades especializadas”.

Los médicos del Servicio de Ambulancia de Londres, especialmente entrenados en cuidados médicos que salvan vidas en entornos peligrosos, también fueron enviados al lugar.

Las líneas de metro Hammersmith y City y Circle line fueron cerradas entre las estaciones Edgware Road y Hammersmith, al igual que la autopista A4 en ambas direcciones según informó la policía en Twitter.   Así como la escuela contigua al edificio.

Preocupaciones de seguridad

Según el Consejo de Kensington y Chelsea, la Torre Grenfell contiene 120 apartamentos en sus 24 pisos y es administrado por la Organización de Gestión de Inquilinos de Kensington y Chelsea (KCTMO, por sus siglas en inglés).

Fue construido en 1974, pero fue sometido a un proceso de renovación de dos años que terminó el año pasado.   El trabajo incluyó un nuevo revestimiento exterior y un sistema de calefacción comunitario, y costó en total unos US$12,7 millones (£10 millones).

El grupo local de Acción de Grenfell había denunciado, mientras la remodelación estaba en curso, que la torre tenía riesgo de incendio y los residentes habían advertido que el acceso para vehículos de emergencia estaba “severamente restringido”.

Ante esto, Nick Paget-Brown, del Consejo de Kensington y Chelsea, pidió “investigar a fondo para determinar la causa del incendio y por qué se extendió tan rápido”.

La BBC no ha podido ponerse en contacto con la compañía que administraba la propiedad en las horas transcurridas desde el incendio.   (BBC Mundo)

English

London fire: Six killed as Grenfell Tower engulfed

Six people have been confirmed dead after a huge fire raged through the night at a west London tower block, and police expect that number to rise.

Eyewitnesses described people trapped in the burning Grenfell Tower, in north Kensington, screaming for help and yelling for their children to be saved.

Firefighters rescued “large numbers”, but London Mayor Sadiq Khan said “a lot” of people were unaccounted for.

The 24-storey block, which is still on fire, looks at risk of collapsing.

During the night, eyewitnesses said they saw lights – thought to be mobile phones or torches – flashing at the top of the block of flats, and trapped residents coming to their windows – some holding children.

It is understood that “several hundred” people would have been in the block when the fire broke out shortly after midnight, most of them sleeping.

London fire crews said it was a "large and very serious incident"
London fire crews said it was a “large and very serious incident”

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.”

He said it was likely to be some time before police could identify the victims, adding that it was too early to speculate on the cause of the fire.

An emergency number has been set up on 0800 0961 233 for anyone concerned about friends or family.

Seventy-four people have received treatment in hospital. At least 20 are known to be in a critical condition.

By mid-morning, the building looked to be just smoking ruins but the fire has again taken hold, and cladding is falling to the ground.

Prime Minister Theresa May is “deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life”, said Downing Street.

Later, police and fire minister Nick Hurd will chair a cross-party meeting to look at how the government can assist the emergency services and local authorities.

Paul Munakr, who lives on the seventh floor, managed to escape.

“As I was going down the stairs, there were firefighters, truly amazing firefighters that were actually going upstairs, to the fire, trying to get as many people out the building as possible,” he told the BBC.

He said he was alerted to the fire not by fire alarms but by people on the street below, shouting “don’t jump, don’t jump”.

Eyewitness Jody Martin said: “I watched one person falling out, I watched another woman holding her baby out the window… hearing screams.

“I was yelling at everyone to get down and they were saying ‘We can’t leave our apartments, the smoke is too bad on the corridors.'”

Michael Paramasivan, who lives on the seventh floor with his girlfriend and young daughter, said he ignored official advice to stay in your home.

One eyewitness said he saw people blinking lights within the building
One eyewitness said he saw people blinking lights within the building

“If we had stayed in that flat, we would’ve perished. My gut instinct told me just to get the girls out. I wrapped the little one up because of the smoke and I just got them out.”

Another resident, Zoe, who lives on the fourth floor, said she was woken by a neighbour banging on her door.

“The whole landing was thick with smoke. The smoke alarms weren’t going off but the way it spread so quickly from the fourth floor, all the way up to the 23rd floor was scary.”

Grenfell Tower, built in 1974, is part of the Lancaster West Estate, a sprawling inner-city social housing complex of nearly 1,000 homes.

The BBC’s Andy Moore, who was at the scene through the night, described watching debris falling from the building, and hearing explosions and breaking glass.

“The police keep pushing back their cordons, pushing back members of the public for fear the building might collapse,” he said.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said it was too early to speculate on the building, although it was structurally safe enough for her crews to be working inside.

She urged all residents to make sure they had reported themselves to police so that the authorities know they are safe.

Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was devastated by the horrific scenes, attended by more than 250 firefighters and 100 ambulance medics.

Questions will need to be answered over the safety of tower blocks, he told BBC Radio.

“We can’t have a situation where people’s safety is put at risk because of bad advice being given or if it is the case, as has been alleged, of tower blocks not being properly serviced or maintained,” he said.

Matt Wrack, of the Fire Brigades Union said something had clearly gone badly wrong with fire prevention procedures at the building.

Firefighters would normally fight a fire in a tower block from the inside, going up the fire escape, and fighting using the internal dry-rising mains, he said, but that’s not been possible in this case.

Construction firm Rydon said recent building work which it carried out on the block “met all required building control, fire regulation and health and safety standards”.

Appeals are being made on social media for news of missing friends and relatives, who might have been caught in the blaze.

Emergency rest centres have opened for those now homeless at Latymer Community Centre, St Clement’s Church, Harrow Club and Rugby Portobello Trust. There are also local collections under way for spare clothes, toys, blankets and toiletries.

People are being advised by police to stay away from the area, where roads are closed.

The 24-storey block, which is still on fire, looks at risk of collapsing
The 24-storey block, which is still on fire, looks at risk of collapsing

Safety concerns

Grenfell Tower underwent a two-year £10m refurbishment as part of a wider transformation of the estate, that was completed last year.

Work included new exterior cladding and a communal heating system.

The 24-storey tower, containing about 120 flats, is managed by the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) on behalf of the council.

Before and during the refurbishment, the local Grenfell Action Group claimed that the block constituted a fire risk and residents warned that site access for emergency vehicles was “severely restricted”.

Construction firm Rydon, which carried out the refurbishment, said it was “shocked to hear of the devastating fire” and added that the work “met all required building control, fire regulation and health and safety standards”.

Council leader Nick Paget-Brown said the buildings were regularly inspected, but a “thorough investigation” was needed.  (BBC News)