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Grenfell Tower residents safety concerns ignored

Grenfell Tower residents safety concerns ignored

Residents of Grenfell Tower, which went up in flames on  Wednesday, and killed at least 20 people, say that their calls for fire safety improvements had been ignored.

Former chairperson of the Grenfell Tower Residents' Association, David Collins, said that residents had complained to the building management but they had been ignored.

"This is a multi-ethnic, multicultural, diverse community that just didn't get served by the people representing them," Collins said.

There is also the belief that their concerns would have been addressed sooner had they been in a more upmarket part of London.

"If this happened somewhere near Knightsbridge this would have been resolved. It wouldn't have been an issue," resident Nana Akuffo, 46, a chef who volunteers at a local community centre, said.

Grenfell Tower formed part of a social housing development in north Kensington, just a few streets away from Notting Hill, which has some of the most expensive houses in the world.

The 24-storey apartment block was home to around 600 people.

Questions are now being raised about how the fire could spread so quickly, in what fire chiefs are calling an unprecedented blaze. The cladding, added to the building as part of an $11 million refit completed in 2016, has come under scrutiny.

The lack of a sprinkler system and any central smoke alarm system - that could have woken sleeping residents - has also been raised.

In addition, advice offered to residents by official fire services (to stay in their apartments and use towels to block out the smoke while awaiting assistance) is also being questioned.

The fire continued to burn more than 36 hours after it first started, making it impossible for the retrieval of bodies.

Residents are understandably furious.

Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday ordered a public inquiry and an official review of action taken by public institutions.

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