The total number of people who have now been formally identified, to the satisfaction of the Coroner, as having died as a result of the fire at Grenfell Tower is now 70. A stillborn baby, baby Logan, has also been recorded as a victim of the fire.
On Tuesday, 15 November the identities of the last two people were confirmed by the Coroner.
All those identified were people who police anticipated would be recovered from Grenfell Tower, and who had been reported missing since Wednesday, 14 June. Police now believe that all those who died in the fire have been recovered and identified. The thoughts of the Metropolitan Police Service are with all those families and friends who have lost loved ones.
Dr Fiona Wilcox, senior Coroner for Westminster, intends to open and adjourn the final planned inquests on Wednesday, 22 November.
The search operation inside Grenfell Tower is nearing its final stage. Specially trained officers from the Met, City of London Police and British Transport Police have been engaged in the mammoth search and recovery operation. Every single flat on every single floor and every communal area has now been thoroughly and meticulously searched. This has included a full forensic fingertip search, with officers examining 15.5 tonnes of debris on each floor.
Officers have been supported throughout the process by forensic anthropologists, archaeologists and odontologists.
Whilst the final stage of the search operation is not expected to conclude until early December, the Met believes that based on all the work carried out so far and the expert advice, it is highly unlikely there is anyone who remains inside Grenfell Tower.
Commander Stuart Cundy, said: “I have been clear from the start that a priority for us was recovering all those who died, and identifying and returning them to their families. I cannot imagine the agony and uncertainty that some families and loved ones have been through whilst we have carried out our meticulous search, recovery and identification process.
“It is vital that our search and identification operation was undertaken in a manner that families and loved ones could have complete confidence in. We continue to provide every support we can to those bereaved, keeping them updated on our efforts.
“Specialist teams working inside Grenfell Tower and the mortuary have pushed the boundaries of what was scientifically possible to identify people. After the fire was finally put out I entered Grenfell Tower and was genuinely concerned that due to the intensity and duration of the fire, that we may not find, recover and then identify all those who died.
“I know that each and every member of the team has done absolutely all they can to make this possible. They have done that for every person who lost their life, their families and loved ones, and all those for whom Grenfell Tower was home.
“I have always been clear that I would give information when I know it to be accurate. The complexity of our efforts to recover and identify everyone who died, and also identify everyone who managed to escape that night cannot be underestimated.”
In June, based on what was known, police believed about 80 people had died. In September, police indicated that the final number believed to have died would be below 80.
Huge amounts of investigative work has been undertaken by the Met’s team to identify who was in Grenfell Tower on the night of the fire; who was missing and presumed dead; enquire after those reported missing and ultimately reconcile all this information.
In the days following the fire the Met Casualty Bureau handled thousands of calls from people reporting that they knew or believed someone was inside Grenfell Tower that night. Each and every call was logged and investigated. On Thursday, 15 June, the Met was facing the challenge of 400 people listed as missing.
That included reconciling multiple missing reports of the same person, for example one person was reported 46 separate times. Some were reported under a number of different names, even the slightest differences in spellings had to be thoroughly investigated and reconciled. Until that process was complete those people continued to be regarded as missing.
The extensive work to locate all those reported as missing only concluded in the last few weeks. Police are now confident they have all been traced and accounted for.
Unfortunately, a number of people were also reported to police as having died in the fire as part of what we believe to be frauds, by individuals intending to financially benefit from the tragedy. Detectives investigating the frauds have carried out substantial work to prove that those people linked to these cases were not victims of the fire. Earlier this month one man pleaded guilty to fraud; he had claimed that his wife and son both died in the fire. There are a number of ongoing fraud investigations and it would be inappropriate for police to provide further details at this time.
Detectives have also used CCTV and police body worn video to identify everyone captured on film escaping Grenfell Tower after the fire started just before 1am, which police believe is the most accurate record of who was in Grenfell Tower. Footage shows that after the fire started, 223 people escaped Grenfell Tower that night and survived. Police therefore believe that there were 293 people in Grenfell Tower when the fire started. A number of other residents were not at home that night.
Commander Cundy, concluded: “The human cost and terrible reality of what took place at Grenfell Tower affects so many people. Our search operation and ongoing investigation is about those people. Tragically, that night, 70 children and adults died and a baby was stillborn. My thoughts, and those of all my colleagues in the Met Police are with all those who lost their loved ones, those who survived, the local community and all those who live with this tragedy every day.
“Our criminal investigation is continuing, and we are determined to do all we can to find the answers that so many people so desperately want.”