Four days after a deadly blaze tore through London’s Grenfell Tower, the London Metropolitan Police have released the first images taken from within the gutted apartment complex.
The photos and videos were captured by investigators searching the building for the bodies of victims. Authorities say that at least 58 people were killed in the fire, which ripped through the tower with breathtaking speed early Wednesday morning.
The images capture the charred remains of household objects like clothes washers, bathtubs, and kitchen sinks. The floors are covered with a thick layer of gray ash and debris.
“The conditions due to the fire damage verge on indescribable, which is why this will be such a lengthy operation taking weeks to complete,” Police Commander Stuart Cundy said in a statement issued with the footage.
“It is really important that we are clear about the scale of the challenge facing us as our teams search Grenfell Tower to recover those people still inside and return them to their loved ones.”
He went on to say that specialist search teams have climbed from the bottom to the top of the structure, but a complete forensic search must now take place.
According to Australia’s ABC News, authorities are using the INTERPOL Disaster Victim Identification Standards to identify bodies. The system relies on fingerprints, dental records, DNA, and physical markings, such as tattoos or scars, to make positive identification.
However, Cundy said that loved ones must be prepared for the “terrible reality” that some victims may not be able to be identified due to the horrific intensity of the fire.
Sky News reports that a revised estimate of the dead will be released on Monday, June 19. As of Sunday, only one victim had been publicly identified: Mohammad Alhajali, age 23. Fifty-two families have been paired with liaison officers to assist them as they await news of their loved ones.
The Grenfell tragedy has triggered public outrage in London, as residents claim the Kensington and Chelsea Council responsible for the tower was repeatedly warned that the cheap cladding installed during a 2016 renovation was a fire risk. In the days following the blaze, protesters stormed Kensington Town Hall and 10 Downing Street, demanding answers.
The Independent reports that on Sunday, a 56-year-old volunteer assigned to help the victims was mistaken for the CEO of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, which managed Grenfell, and beaten by an angry crowd. He suffered a blow to the head but is expected to recover.
[Featured Image by Carl Court/Getty Images]