NEWS
05/07/2017 20:20 BST

'Last Of The Visible Human Remains' Recovered From Grenfell Tower

The "last of the visible human remains" have been recovered from Grenfell Tower, according to police who are investigating the devastating fire.

Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said "87 recoveries" had been made in the three weeks since fire ripped through the high-rise block, but stressed "the catastrophic damage" inside meant "that is not 87 people".

Some 21 bodies have been formally identified by the coroner and their families informed.

Specialist officers have begun "meticulously" sifting through about 15.5 tonnes of debris on each floor by hand for any human remains.

Mr Cundy said: "Tragically, there are still 23 flats where despite our investigative efforts we have been unable to trace or speak to anyone who was in those properties on the night.

"We assume that sadly no-one from any of those flats survived."

He was unable to say "with any certainty" how many people may have been in those flats, either as occupiers or visitors, until the search was complete.

Most survivors displaced from Grenfell Tower and Walk are still living in hotels as the Government attempts to find them suitable accommodation.

Fourteen households hoping to be moved out of emergency accommodation have accepted offers for permanent or temporary living arrangements, Grenfell Response Team (GRT) said.

The places offered have been in Kensington and Chelsea, a neighbouring borough, or another area of London following a specific request.

A specialist taskforce will be sent in to Kensington and Chelsea Council to take over the running of key services, following heavy criticism of its response to the disaster.

Campaigners and residents claim little headway has been made, with residents said to have been offered properties that are either out of the borough, too expensive or on a one-year contract.

Some 139 offers had been made following 158 housing needs assessments by Wednesday, the three-week deadline the Government set itself for offering housing to all of those displaced by the blaze.

GRT said every household that wanted to move from emergency accommodation had been made offers in Kensington and Chelsea or neighbouring boroughs, while 19 families were contacted and had either refused assistance or were abroad.

This was for a range of reasons, including some relatives who were looking after loved ones in hospital, and the response team was "ready to provide them with accommodation when they were ready".

One resident reported being shown a two-bedroom property when they required three bedrooms, others had been offered places in high-rises, and another survivor was said to have been offered accommodation with the caveat that no guests could stay overnight.

GRT has said rent will be suspended for one year and thereafter will be of a "similar scale to a council house social rent", while survivors should feel under no pressure to take up the first offers.

Grenfell survivor Sid-Ali Atmani, currently living in a hotel, turned down the offer of a home because it was too far from the area and the local school.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "Some families ... they don't want a temporary house.

"Personally, I speak with a few families, they are not asking for a temporary house.

"Can the Government give them back their houses, their life back?

"We are not the criminals here, the crime has been happening in the building."

Pilgrim Tucker, a campaigner working with Grenfell Tower families, told the Press Association residents were concerned they were "not being talked to properly, just being presented with an offer".

She said one tower survivor had been offered accommodation which, after a year of paying no rent, would be triple what they were paying before.

It is not clear how many others had been offered similar deals.

A spokesman for the North Kensington Law Centre said many of its clients still staying in hotels and B&Bs had "unanswered questions about whether those residents will have to pay more rent than they did previously, and whether their new tenancies, both temporary and permanent, will guarantee them the same rights and protections they had before".

Most of the 160 households evacuated from the "finger blocks" surrounding the tower, Testerton Walk, Hurstway Walk and Barandon Walk, are still in emergency accommodation, a Kensington and Chelsea Council spokesman said.

By midday on Wednesday, the number of cladding samples that have failed government combustibility tests had risen to 199, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said.

These are from buildings located across 55 local authority areas.

The total number of buildings that have failed the tests is 202, including three NHS trusts.

In 12 local authority areas which the DCLG did not identify, 54 buildings have failed the tests.

One sample has passed the test - the first to do so since the testing programme was rolled out. It is not known which building or area the sample was from.

Eleanor Kelly, speaking for the GRT, said the "vast majority" of residents want to remain in the borough and that 100 empty buildings there were being offered to families on the basis of temporary and, in many cases, permanent accommodation.

Some 68 flats in Kensington Row are under construction and due to be ready for permanent occupation by the end of July.