Europe

Police considering manslaughter charges over London tower blaze

London Police said on Friday they are considering manslaughter charges over a tower block fire that started in a fridge freezer and killed at least 79 people.

The deadly blaze that engulfed the Grenfell Tower block started in a Hotpoint fridge freezer and cladding on the building failed all safety tests, London police said.

Police Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack said the Hotpoint model, FF175BP, was not subject to recall and that the manufacturer was doing further tests.

"We now have expert evidence that the fire was not started deliberately," McCormack said.

Police said both the insulation and tiles used in cladding at the 24-storey tower block failed all post-fire safety tests.

"Preliminary tests show the insulation samples collected from Grenfell tower combusted soon after the test started," McCormack said.

Such were their concerns after the tests that the information was immediately shared with government to disseminate more widely.

"Given the deaths of so many people we are considering manslaughter as well as criminal offences and breaches of legislation and regulations," McCormack said.

Britain ordered an immediate technical examination of the Hotpoint fridge model, manufactured between 2006 and 2009, to establish whether further action needed to be taken, but said there was no need for owners to switch off their appliances.

Whirlpool Corp, the world’s largest maker of home appliances, owns the Hotpoint brand in the Europe and Asia Pacific regions. In the United States, the brand now belongs to Haier, following the Chinese group’s purchase of General Electric Co’s appliance business.

"We are working with the authorities to obtain access to the appliance so that we can assist with the ongoing investigations," Whirpool said in a statement. "Words cannot express our sorrow at this terrible tragedy."

The blaze, Britain's worst since World War Two, has heaped pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May, already fighting for her political survival after her party lost its parliamentary majority in a snap election on June 8.

When speaking about the 79 people dead, presumed dead or missing, McCormack said: "I fear that there are more." 

Grenfell Tower disaster was caused by years of neglect
Grenfell Tower disaster was caused by years of neglect