At least six people are dead in London and dozens more are missing after fire ripped through a 24-floor residential apartment building early Wednesday.
More than 200 firefighters were battling the inferno – which officials called an “unprecedented incident” — that left at least 74 being treated at local hospitals, with 20 people in critical care.
One witness, who identified herself as Sofia, told The Guardian: “I heard loads of young girls crying out for help…I can hear people screaming for help and they are dying.”
Jody Martin told the BBC she watched desperate residents of the building trying to escape the blaze.
“I watched one person falling out, I watched another woman holding her baby out the window,” she said. “I was yelling at everyone to get down and they were saying, ‘We can’t leave our apartments, the smoke is too bad on the corridors.'”
Paul Munakr, who lives on the seventh floor, managed to escape. He said he was alerted to the fire by people screaming “don’t jump, don’t jump.”
Fire Brigades Union spokesperson Matt Wrack said something had apparently gone wrong with the building’s fire prevention measures.
The building is the Grenfell Tower in the North Kensington area. The cause of the fire is not known. A structural engineer was monitoring stability of building.
An entire side of the building appeared to be in flames, and the London Fire Brigade tweeted the fire involved the second to the top floor of the 27-story building.
“The Prime Minister is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life in the Grenfell Tower and is being kept constantly updated on the situation,” a spokesperson for PM Theresa May said.
Nassima Boutrig, who lives opposite the building, said she was awakened by sirens and smoke so thick it filled her home.
“We saw the people screaming,” she said. “A lot of people said `Help, help, help.’ The fire brigade could only help downstairs. It was fire up, up, up. They couldn’t stop the fire.”
Witnesses said that they saw people jumping from the upper floors.
George Clarke, the presenter of “Amazing Spaces,” told Radio 5 Live he was covered in ash even though he was 100 yards from the scene.
He said he saw people waving flashlights from the top levels of the building and saw rescuers “doing an incredible job” trying to get people out.