Search continues for Grenfell Tower missing amid fears death toll could soar

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Searches for the Grenfell Tower missing are continuing frantically as a police commander expressed hope the death toll would not hit triple figures. 

Dozens are thought to be unaccounted for since the blaze, which police fear was so devastating that some victims may never be identified.

Six bodies have so far been recovered from the gutted 24-storey tower, while 11 have been located inside but cannot yet be removed.

Currently, 17 people are known to have died, six of whom have been provisionally identified, but the figure is expected rise significantly.

Metropolitan Police commander Stuart Cundy responded to speculation that the number dead could exceed 100, saying: "From a personal perspective, I really hope it isn't.

"For those of us that have been down there, it's pretty emotional, so I hope it is not triple figures, but I can't be drawn on the numbers," he added, his voice cracking.

His words came as:

:: London mayor Sadiq Khan was heckled by an angry crowd as he passed through the west London neighbourhood, with some demanding to know how he planned to handle the crisis.

:: One of the first victims was named as 23-year-old Syrian refugee Mohammed Alhajali.

:: Widespread appeals continue for those lost since the fire, including children such as 12-year-old Jessica Urbano, and whole families, including Rania Ibrahim and her two daughters Fathia, five, and Hania, three.

:: Council chiefs pledged to carry out extra fire safety checks at some high-rise tower blocks across London amid concerns more buildings could be at risk.

:: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who earlier met displaced families, suggested luxury properties lying empty in Kensington should be taken over by the Government and used to house the Grenfell Tower residents.

:: An emergency government funding scheme was launched to help meet the costs of the disaster.

The emergency services are gearing up for a third day of picking through the tower's charred remains in search of bodies.

Teams were forced to leave the building on Thursday afternoon when the fire restarted, delaying further the efforts to reach upper floors, where some victims are thought to have been trapped.

Mr Cundy said: "It may be - and I just don't know - it may be that ultimately some victims remain unidentified.

"I won't know that until we've gone through the full recovery from Grenfell Tower and we know exactly what we've got and I anticipate that is going to take a considerable period of time.

"Not just the immediate recovery of the bodies we have found but the full search of that whole building, we could be talking weeks, we could be talking months - it is a very long process.

"There is a risk that sadly we may not be able to identify everybody."

Prime Minister Theresa May ordered a full public inquiry into the disaster in response to mounting anger that the fire might have been preventable.

On Thursday police also confirmed they had launched a criminal investigation into the matter. 

It followed calls for those involved in the building's recent renovation - which many claim posed a major safety risk - to face prosecution.

"We as the police have started an investigation, I mentioned when I was down at the scene this morning that one of our very senior investigating officers is leading that for us," the commander said.

"We as the police, we investigate criminal offences - I am not sitting here and saying there are criminal offences that have been committed, that's why you do an investigation, to establish it."

The police's casualty bureau was said to have received 5,000 calls during the chaotic first day of the investigation.

Around 400 people were reported missing, but Mr Cundy downplayed the figure, saying it added up to more people than actually lived in the block. One person was reported missing 46 times, he added.

More than £1 million has been raised to help those affected by the fire, with more than 60 tonnes of donations collected by one local mosque.

Many of the refuges told the public they did not require any more donations after hundreds of people dropped off supplies.

Police urged anyone still concerned about a missing loved one to visit the reception area at the Westway Sports Centre, west London, or ring the casualty bureau on 0800 0961 233.

Those who reported a friend or relative as missing but have since been reunited with them were also asked to get in touch with police.