Theresa May avoids questions on personal response to Grenfell disaster


British police say 58 people are missing and presumed to have died in this week's blaze at a west London highrise apartment building.

Mrs May has faced growing criticism for the way she has dealt with the aftermath of the blaze that is thought to have claimed more than 70 lives. I can confirm that a 5 million pound ($6 million) emergency fund that I announced yesterday is now being distributed on the ground so people can buy clothes, food and other essentials.

Emergency services are set to spend a third day looking for bodies in the burnt-out Grenfell Tower block in central London.

The horrific fire early Wednesday morning has put increased pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May and her senior ministers at a time when her authority has been weakened by an election that saw her Conservative Party lost its majority in Parliament.

London police said an investigation, led by a detective from its homicide and major crime unit, would examine whether criminal offences had been committed although they said there was nothing to suggest the fire was started deliberately.

Of the 58, 30 people are confirmed dead.

Prior to the meeting with victims, other residents of the block and volunteer workers, she chaired a meeting of a government task force on the disaster. The London Fire Brigade dispatched more than 200 firefighters, at least 40 fire engines and about 20 ambulance crews in an effort to battle the inferno.

More news: 'Wonder Woman' breaks box office records with $100.5 million opening
More news: US Rep. Scalise's condition upgraded to 'serious' after shooting
More news: Amazon to buy Whole Foods Market, moving onto Main Street

The official death toll from the blaze now sits at 30, up from 17 overnight, as firefighters continue the extremely hard process of recovering bodies from within the tower.

Protesters gathered to call for help for the residents of the burned building, and the BBC reports that dozens of people "stormed Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall with a list of demands".

This will ensure those involved in the response to the tragedy are able "to receive targeted support should they need it", Downing Street said.

"The conditions inside Grenfell Tower mean that the search-and-recovery operation to find and recover the victims is extremely challenging". A memorial wall has been created for people to write messages to the missing.

Commander Stuart Cundy said "my heart goes out to those affected".

Cundy said police will investigate the tower's refurbishment project, which experts believe may have left the building more vulnerable to a catastrophic blaze.

"We're all desperately sad, we're all angry, but of course none of us as angry as those who were directly affected". Police have said it could take months to search the building and some victims might never be identified.