Updates: London fire, 12 residents confirmed dead and 20 injured, more fatalities expected

London’s Metropolitan Police has confirmed at least 12 people dead and 20 badly  injured in a huge blaze that engulfed a residential high-rise in west London on Wednesday morning. Authorities added that the number is expected to rise and police do not anticipate finding any more survivors.  Hundreds of firefighters were sent to 24-storey Grenfell Tower in north Kensington, as large plumes of smoke billowed above the capital after the blaze broke out in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Witnesses spoke of “terrifying” scenes, parents throwing children to safety, people screaming from the windows calling for help. With some residents suggesting they heard no alarm go off when the fire began. At least 75 people are being treated at six hospitals across the capital.

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Follow the latest developments below.

The charity commission has urged people wanting to help to give to registered charities. Its registrar of charities, David Holdsworth, said:

We are saddened to hear of the tragic events in West London. There are many registered charities on the ground doing what they do best to assist those who have been affected. We are urging members of the public that wish to make donations to check that they give to a registered charity in order to best support those affected, and also importantly to check with those charities what support they need – whether that is money, time or other essential supplies.

Parents throwing their children out through the window to fire service official for safety..

Updated at 10.38pm BST
Companies, individuals and charities have sprung into action to offer help to anyone affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, with crowdfunding pages raising more than £670,000 in less than 24 hours. The Press Association has summarised some of the efforts being made:

Crowdfunding
An appeal on JustGiving launched by Karolina Hanusova had raised £240,000 by 10pm, while another set up by Hayley Yearwood has generated £312,857.
A series of pages on GoFundMe had raised a combined fund of more than £170,000.
Individuals offer up homes. People used Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to offer accommodation and transport help to those affected.

Local businesses
Businesses at the nearby Notting Dale Village brought trolleys of refreshments including sandwiches and fruit to the emergency services working at the cordons.

The phone company, EE, said people were welcome to use their stores in the local area if they need to contact anyone or use social media.
And TalkTalk, whose headquarters are on Evesham Street, close to the tower block, said it had thrown open its offices to affected residents in need of refuge.

Retailer Monsoon, which is based next door, is also offering refreshments to those affected.
The London Evening Standard has launched an appeal on a dedicated website dispossessedfund.org.uk.
Football clubs

Queens Park Rangers and Fulham rushed to support those left homeless. QPR said it had opened its doors and facilities to those affected by the fire, but also said it could not accept any more donations, while Fulham also helped with the collection drive.

In other updates….

Dozens of people have gathered for a vigil in the shadow of the Grenfell Tower.

Many were moved to tears after a moment of silent contemplation outside the Notting Hill Methodist Church in west London.

The Rev Mike Long invited those present to light candles to place on the steps of the church on Wednesday evening. He then played Amazing Grace on his flute as members of the crowd sang along. He said:

There are times when all the words we can say are not adequate and sometimes words fail us because no words can do justice to how we feel, or what we have seen or what has happened. Today is one of those days.

What we can simply do is look to all that we have seen today which is good, which is fabulous – people getting together.

Let light triumph over all that is rotten, that is desperate and that defies our understanding.

Here’s the full text of a statement from the prime minister:

I have just received the latest update on the appalling tragedy at Grenfell Tower. Twelve people have been confirmed dead in this terrible fire that has taken place, and sadly, the police expect that number to rise further.

My thoughts are with the victims, their families and all of those who had their homes destroyed. It’s impossible to comprehend the horror of what they’ve been going through.

The response of people living nearby, who have provided help, compassion and support has I think, once again, shown the fantastic spirit of London.

Earlier today, I ordered a cross-government meeting to ensure that every assistance was being given to manage the emergency service response, and that group will meet again tomorrow.

Once again, our emergency services – the fire service, ambulance, NHS and police – have shown incredible bravery, working in truly appalling conditions.

Their work will continue for some time, and I know everybody will want to join me in thanking them for their amazing bravery.

Many people will be working around the clock in the NHS to treat those who have been injured, and working elsewhere to provide help and support to those who have no home to return to.

Of course, once the scene is secure, once the recovery is complete, then an investigation will take place into the cause of the fire and if there are any lessons to be learned.

Until then, our focus must be on ensuring that the emergency services have what they need to continue with their harrowing work, and that help and support is being provided to all those who have suffered as a result of this tragedy. Such a sad turn of events..