Victims of Grenfell Tower tragedy remembered in silence two years on

The victims of the Grenfell fire were remembered as a community fell silent in the shadow of the tower block two years on from the deadly blaze.

A 72-second silence, one second representing each victim, was held near the base of the burned-out building in west London, before the names of the men, women and children who died were read aloud.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan joined Communities Secretary James Brokenshire in laying wreaths in memory of the victims, as flowers were also laid by families, community groups and residents’ associations.

The tower, surrounded by white sheeting, with banners featuring the green Grenfell heart and the words “Grenfell forever in our hearts” emblazoned across the four highest floors, formed a striking backdrop for the sombre evening memorial event.

Applause broke out as a large community mosaic, which has been in the making since just before the first anniversary, was unveiled, featuring words including love, hope and unity.

The private event for survivors and bereaved was shown on large screens in the local area, where community members, many wearing green and some holding Justice for Grenfell signs, gathered in solidarity.

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Earlier, bereaved families, survivors and campaigners set the tone for a day of remembrance as they joined hundreds of people who gathered for a memorial service at a church service nearby.

Friday marked 24 months since a small kitchen fire in a flat on an estate in Kensington turned into the most deadly domestic blaze since the Second World War, rendering scores of families homeless and triggering both a public inquiry and a criminal investigation.

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A number of survivors also marked the anniversary by renewing appeals for urgent safety recommendations to be introduced now to prevent a future tragedy.

Latest figures show some 328 high-rise residential and public buildings are still to complete the replacement of unsafe cladding amid fears over its contribution to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Grenfell Tower memorial
Grenfell Tower memorial

The inquiry’s first report, which focuses on what happened on the night the fire broke out, was due to be published in spring but has been delayed until October.

Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick has previously said he does not consider it appropriate to make interim recommendations ahead of the report and any recommendations he makes will be limited to the first phase.

But some survivors have become frustrated that safety recommendations, such as abandoning the “stay-put” policy for buildings more than 10 storeys high, are yet to be implemented.

Now lawyers for some of the affected families are calling again for urgent steps to be taken on “basic fire safety measures” to prevent a similar disaster.