Families Search for Missing Relatives as London Fire Death Toll Reaches 17
The death toll in the Grenfell Tower fire is now at no fewer than 17 people as families desperately appeal to officials for help locating loved ones.
The death toll in London's horrific Grenfell Tower fire is now at no fewer than 17 people as families desperately appeal to officials for help locating missing loves ones.
Those desperate for answers say a fog of uncertainty hangs in the air as they comb area hospitals and plead with police and fire officials for help while clinging to hope that their loved ones got out alive.
Meanwhile, Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said it would be a "miracle" if anyone is found alive inside the blackened, 27-story building at this point.
And a miracle is exactly what people like Karim Mussilhy are hoping for. Mussilhy's uncle is believed to have been in the 120-apartment tower on Wednesday as most of the upwards of 600 residents slept.
"We're doing our best," Mussilhy said. "We've gone to each hospital and we haven't been able to locate him in any of those either. We don't know what's going on."
But amid the confusion, Sandy Mussilhy is hanging on to the possibility that her uncle escaped the fast-moving inferno.
"There's a little bit of hope in me that maybe he's unconscious somewhere in a hospital and they just haven't identified him yet, and he's okay. But my gut feeling is not good," she said.
In addition to visiting hospitals, people are using social media in a bid to find loved ones. Adam Smith, whose mother lived in Grenfell Tower, posted to Twitter on Wednesday.
"My Mum is missing - Sheila, 84 years old, 16th floor Grenfell Tower (number 132). If anyone has seen her please LMK," Smith wrote.
The family of Jessica Urbano hasn't seen the 12-year-old since she became separated from them after the fire started. Her mother last heard from her when she used a borrowed cell phone to call from a fire escape at 1:39 a.m.
"We haven't heard from her," Urbano's aunt told the Mirror. "She was with a group of people in the fire escape, in the fire stairs, they live on the 20th floor and my sister-in-law was just coming back from work, as was my older niece."
"She will be 13 next month, so we're desperately worried," the girl's aunt said.
Co-workers, too, have issued pleas regarding the missing. Mo Tuccu has worked as a security guard at London's Red Consultancy for nearly a decade.
Employees there said Tuccu left work to go to Grenfell Tower with his wife and their 3-year-old daughter with relatives who lived in the apartment building.
"Our colleague Mo Tuccu is missing after visiting relatives at Grenfell Tower last night. Pls retweet," Red Consultancy tweeted.
Tuccu's wife and daughter are also missing.
These stories and others have London and the rest of the world praying for everyone affected while area authorities are working overtime to sort through the continued chaos.
More than 200 firefighters worked to put out the inferno, which is believed to have started on the fourth floor and spread with shocking speed along the tower's facade, where residents initially yelled down desperately for help.
When the flames passed, the windows framed only sooty, black emptiness.
"It was horrific. I saw families screaming, people looking like they wanted to jump out," local resident Yousef Serroukh, 18, told reporters.
Serroukh's experience mirrored that of many witnesses to the fire in North Kensington, where firefighters fought tirelessly to beat back the flames that broke out sometime around 1 a.m.
"We saw people looking out the window screaming, 'Help! Help!' Now all those windows, those people are literally gone," one witness recalled.
Fire Commissioner Cotton said her officers, who sustained no more than minor injuries, have walked away with lasting scars.
"I spoke to one of my officers, who was very near when someone came out the window, and he was in tears. And he is a professional fire officer," Cotton told Sky News. "We like to think of ourselves as 'roughty, toughty' and heroes — they are heroes — but they have feelings. People were absolutely devastated by yesterday's events."
While fighting back their own emotions, firefighters worked through Thursday to make the building safe for continued search efforts as entire families remain missing.
Some 74 people were injured in the blaze. Thirty-seven have been hospitalized, 17 of them in critical condition.
No account can be made of exactly how many remain missing from the building, which housed at least 600 people, which means without a "miracle," the number of fatalities is almost sure to rise.
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