Grenfell Tower fire: UK police considering manslaughter charges
The British police say they are considering manslaughter charges as part of the investigation into the deadly Grenfell Tower fire, after reports that highly toxic gases emitted by the building’s external cladding as it burnt, killing most of the residents.
The Metropolitan Police said on Thursday that every criminal offence is being considered after it was revealed that police had captured documents and materials from a “number of organizations.”
The fire was ignited by a Hotpoint fridge-freezer before it spread to the building’s “combustible” cladding, investigators have now confirmed.
“We are looking at every criminal offence from manslaughter onwards, we are looking at every health and safety and fire safety offences and we are reviewing every company at the moment involved in the building and refurbishment of Grenfell Tower,” Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack said.
Cladding was installed on the outside of Grenfell Tower last year for both insulation and aesthetic purposes. The combustible material is suspected to have aided the “unprecedented” spread of the fire, trapping most of the residents inside the burning building.
McCormack said tests conducted as part of the probe so far were “small scale,” but added, “All I can say at the moment is they (tiles and insulation) don’t pass any safety tests.”
“What we are being told at the moment by the Building Research Establishment is that the cladding and insulation failed all safety tests,” she continued.
“We have been in Grenfell Tower, from top to bottom, last week. Next week we will be installing a lift to the outside of the building to assist. But our forensic search may not be complete until the end of the year,” she stated.
“There is a terrible reality that we may not find or identify everyone who died due to the intense heat,” the official acknowledged.
Experts have claimed that victims of the Grenfell Tower inferno might have been killed by highly toxic gases, namely cyanide and carbon monoxide, emitted by the building’s external cladding as it burnt.
According to Professor of Environmental Toxicology at Leeds University Alastair Hay, the people who were trapped inside the building as the fire spread would have had “no chance whatsoever” of surviving because of the “very high concentration” of such gasses.
“If the concentration [of cyanide] was very high, they would have no chance whatsoever, because cyanide can kill really within a matter of seconds,” Hay told Russia’s RT news network.
“What it essentially does is block oxygen use in your cells” causing the person to become “immobile” and “die from a heart attack very quickly.”
“Most often it is the gases that kill people […] before they are exposed to flames,” Hay added.
According to British authorities, at least 79 people are believed to be dead after the fire engulfed the 120-apartment high-rise, which has the capacity to accommodate up to 600 people.
The death toll is expected to rise as some local residents suggest that after the fire broke out not many people could escape because the blaze engulfed the entire building rapidly.