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U.K. Officials Said Material on Tower Was Banned. It Wasn’t.

The United States and other countries allow only low buildings to use such cladding because of the fire hazard. British regulations may seek to limit the spread of the flames by requiring builders to divide potentially flammable cladding with fireproof barriers at horizontal or vertical intervals. But engineers and experts say that such barriers have proven ineffective in other fires around the world. The flames can often circumvent them.

Along with the cladding, investigators are looking, among much else, at the absence of sprinklers and a centralized alarm system in the building, which is not uncommon for British apartment blocks as old as Grenfell Tower, and guidance that urged residents to “stay put” and await instructions if a fire broke out in someone else’s unit.

Many residents of the tower block are still unaccounted for, and the police have said that because of the intensity of the fire, some remains may never be identified.

“As of this morning, I’m afraid to say there are now 79 people who we believe are either dead or missing, and I sadly have to presume they are dead,” Cmdr. Stuart Cundy said in remarks to journalists on Monday. Of those fatalities, he said the police had formally identified five victims.

Mrs. May’s office said that the terms of reference for the inquiry were being drafted, and that she wanted answers quickly. The prime minister’s office has also contacted all local authorities in England asking them to identify any safety concerns in light of the tragedy, it said. It added that Mrs. May did not support a proposal by the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, to seize unoccupied properties to rehouse survivors of the fire.

Mrs. May has now pledged 5 million pounds, or about $ 6.4 million, to help the victims of the fire. And on Sunday, the British government took direct control of the emergency response, sidelining local officials whose actions had been criticized as slow and disorganized.

Source: NYT > World

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