Before their public residence turned into a 24-storey cinder, Grenfell Tower residents report that they endlessly warned about fire hazards. But all these warnings fell to deaf ears. As a retaliatory response to the unprecedented accident, angry protestors stormed the local government council demanding justice. They accused the officials for negligence and then leaving them without any financial assistance and providing inaccurate account of their loved ones.
The early Wednesday fire has left scores of residents unknown where they are, with frustrated survivors calling upon the government to step in and help account for the missing persons.
As a show of solidarity, Prime Minister Theresa May and London Mayor visited the scene of fire. However, things did not turn out as expected as the two were heckled on their separate visits. The Queen and Prince William had earlier on visited the area where they left a relief center for the victims. The royals were also subjected to calls of “what about the children?”
Confirmed reports so far indicate that at least 30 people died from the inferno but there are worries the death toll may increase to at least 70. The Grenfell Tower fire incident has already become a symbol of inequalities between the wealthy and the poor.
The public was outraged as reports continue to emerge that corner-cutting by government officials and contractors may have had a role in the destructive fire.
A Challenge for May
Theresa May, whose powers are already weakened by securing a minority government, finds herself under even increased pressure. Despite calling for public inquiry into the matter, her reaction has been criticized as one that lacked empathy, especially when she earlier on failed to meet victims’ families.
These criticisms echoed the ones she received during the election campaign period when she was accused of preferring speeches in carefully controlled environments. But she ventured out of the purported comfort zone on Friday, promising about $6.5 million funds for emergency supplies including clothes, foods and other items.
Speaking outside St. Clement’s Church, closer to the tower, May said that tragedy affected everyone, reassuring of her government’s commitment to provide aid in “this terrible time”.
But her speech was met with heckles of “Coward!”
Notable analysts viewed the fire incident as May’s downfall, not just because of her self-inflicted public image damage, but also her failure to bridge the political class and the victims, majority of who were immigrants and poor.
Ms May has outlined numerous measures that would support those left homeless by the devastating fire.
She held a private meeting with the victims at a central London hospital.
“I spoke with people who ran from the fire in only the clothes they were wearing. They have been left with nothing – no bank cards, no money, no means of caring for their children or relatives. One woman told me she had escaped in only her top and underwear,” said the Prime Minister.
She has promised that all the homeless will be re-housed within weeks.