The evacuation comes amid widening worries about the safety of high-rise apartment blocks across the country following the inferno that engulfed Grenfell Tower in west London killing at least 79 people
Residents are evacuated from the Taplow residential tower block on the Chalcots Estate, in the borough of Camden, north London, Friday, June 23, 2017, photo: AP/Alastair Grant
24 of June 2017 13:01:01
LONDON – Britain's fire-safety crisis expanded substantially Saturday as authorities revealed that 27 high-rise apartment blocks across the country have cladding that failed fire safety tests. London officials scrambled to evacuate four public housing towers after experts found them "not safe for people to sleep in overnight."Hundreds of residents hastily packed their bags and sought emergency shelter, with many angry and confused about the chaotic situation. Some refused to leave their high-rise apartments. Scores of evacuees slept on inflatable beds in a nearby gym while officials sought better accommodations for them.Camden Council leader Georgia Gould said it decided to evacuate four blocks in north London's Chalcots Estate late Friday after fire inspectors uncovered problems with "gas insulation and door stops," which, combined with the presence of flammable cladding encasing the buildings, meant residents had to leave immediately.manslaughter charges in the Grenfell disaster and they were conducting a wide-ranging investigation that will look at everything that contributed to it. The Metropolitan Police said cladding attached to Grenfell during a recent renovation failed safety tests conducted by investigators."We are looking at every criminal offense from manslaughter onwards," Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack told reporters. "We are looking at all health and safety and fire safety offenses, and we are reviewing every company at the moment involved in the building and refurbishment of Grenfell Tower."[caption id="attachment_64306" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Residents leave a tower block on the Chalcots Estate in Camden, London, Friday evening, June 23, 2017, as the building is evacuated in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire to allow "urgent fire safety works" to take place. Photo: Press Association/Stefan Rousseau via AP[/caption]The government has ordered an immediate examination of the refrigerator model that started the blaze. McCormack said the Hotpoint model FF175BP refrigerator-freezer had not been subject to any product recalls. Hotpoint said it was working with authorities to examine the appliance, adding "words cannot express our sorrow at this terrible tragedy."The government also urged building owners, public and private, to submit samples of their cladding material for testing, since fears about cladding are not limited to apartment buildings. One hotel chain, Premier Inn, is calling in experts to make certain its properties meet safety regulations.Police say 79 people are either confirmed or presumed dead in the Grenfell blaze, although that number may change, and it will take weeks to find and identify remains. To encourage cooperation with authorities and get a true number of the victims, May said the government won't penalize any Grenfell fire survivors who were in the country illegally.
SYLVIA HUIDANICA KIRKA