Met Police Commander Stuart Cundy this afternoon said work to identify those who tragically died in the Grenfell Tower fire in Kensington is our top priority.
Officers are working around the clock, alongside the other emergency services, to recover the bodies of those who have died, identify them and support their families.
We are asking families and friends who are missing loved ones to make contact with the police in two ways:
- If you can attend in person please go to the reception centre at the Westway sports and leisure centre - this afternoon we have placed a team of detectives there to sit down with people and take full details of anyone missing or who has information.
- If you cannot attend, call Casualty Bureau on 0800 0961 233. If you cannot get through, we would urge you to please keep trying. Be aware that our staff are very busy - but your call will be answered and you will be helped.
The casualty bureau is being staffed 24/7 and has taken 5,000 calls so far. Around 200 trained staff from the Met supported from police officers and staff from seven other forces around the country are taking calls and also calling people back to update them
If someone you have reported missing has now been found please update us at the Westway or via casualty bureau.
A total of 17 fatalities have been confirmed; the bodies of six people have been recovered and are at Westminster mortuary and 11 remain inside the building. We sadly expect that total to rise and we do not expect to find any survivors.
Commander Cundy said: "The recovery of victims from inside the building is enormously challenging, but it is our absolute priority above everything else to recover and identify the victims and let the families know.
"It is important to be frank - fires are still breaking out and conditions are very difficult and hazardous for the emergency services in the upper levels of the building
"We can only recover bodies when it is safe to do so and that will take some time in the coming days and weeks to come. We have experts from urban search and rescue and the London Fire Brigade carrying out this process.
"We believe we know the provisional identity of six of the deceased and those families have trained family liaison officers supporting them. We have identified all those injured in hospital. The families of the 16 who remain in a critical condition, as well as others in hospital with less serious injuries, are all aware.
"I cannot begin to put myself in the shoes of those families affected and I can entirely understand their frustration at not knowing if their loved ones are amongst those who have died. Sadly, the nature of injuries caused by such an intense fire will mean the identification process will take some time. But it would also be deeply distressing for families for us to release wrong information.
"Aside from the six people, we simply do not know at this stage the identity of those who are deceased. We cannot release information we do not have and it is so important the information we do release is entirely accurate.
"Families can help us by ensuring we have all the information we need - please go to the Westway centre or speak to Casualty Bureau, even if you have before, so we can be clear on who is missing, survivors and sadly the deceased."
Internationally-recognised standards of identification are used to identify the deceased. These are known as the INTERPOL Disaster Victim Identification Standards.
Victims are identified where possible, by at least one of the primary identification methods which are dental comparison, fingerprints and DNA.
Other, secondary, identification features are also taken into consideration, such as tattoos and scars. Supporting information to consider can include jewellery, clothing or property.
Once a preliminary identification has been made, trained liaison officers are deployed to support families.
These processes take place in conjunction with the coroner. Both the Met and the coroner are committed to working as quickly as possible to identify people and repatriate them to their families.
Once more, our thoughts remain with all those so affected by this tragedy.
Follow https://twitter.com/metpoliceuk for updates.
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