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London fire toll hits 30

By: AFP

Angry London residents heckled Prime Minister Theresa May and stormed local authority headquarters Friday as they demanded justice for the victims of a tower block fire that left 30 people dead, with dozens more unaccounted for.

May was criticized for avoiding locals when she visited the burnt-out shell of the 24-storey Grenfell Tower on Thursday, but faced cries of “shame on you” and “coward” when she returned the following day.

Dozens of police officers held back booing crowds and broke up scuffles as her car drove off from a local church, where she had met survivors, residents and volunteers and promised new funds for those affected.

There were also angry scenes outside the offices of the Kensington and Chelsea council, which was responsible for managing the 1970s social housing block, in a working-class enclave in one of London’s richest areas.

There are questions about why the block was not fitted with sprinklers or a central smoke alarm, and whether a recent refurbishment, including new external cladding, helped fuel the flames.

“It was a death trap and they knew it,” one person shouted as demonstrators swelled outside the council building, with dozens going inside and clashing with police and security guards. “I have friends in the tower and they are not telling us anything,” said Salwa Buamani, 25, who took part in the peaceful protest outside with her three-year-old niece.

Protesters later marched to the edge of the police cordon around the tower, shouting “no justice, no peace”, where a few young men tried unsuccessfully to break through.

Another demonstration took place outside May’s Downing Street office, while later in the evening, hundreds of mourners gathered near the tower for a candlelight vigil.

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