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Fraud and Looting in London's Grenfell Tower as Fire Death Toll Falls to 71

© REUTERS / Neil HallThe burnt out remains of the Grenfell apartment tower are seen in North Kensington, London, Britain, June 18, 2017.
The burnt out remains of the Grenfell apartment tower are seen in North Kensington, London, Britain, June 18, 2017. - Sputnik International
The number of people killed in June by the horrific fire at the 24-story tower block of flats in London has been lowered, while numerous allegations of theft and looting as well as cases of fraud remain at the center of the disaster’s aftermath.

The Metropolitan Police have confirmed the final death toll from Grenfell Tower fire in west London has fallen from 80 to 71, including a stillborn baby. The victims include Logan Gomes, a baby boy who was stillborn in hospital hours after his mother survived the blaze in the 24-story block on June 14.   

Commander Stuart Cundy, who is leading the criminal investigation into the fire, said fraudulent claims were one of a number of factors behind the fall in the death toll.

Fake Victim Posed With Prince Charles

Anh Nhu Nguyen, 52, will be sentenced next month after pleading guilty to fraud. He claimed his wife, his son and all his "worldly possessions" in the blaze.

He posed as a victim for two weeks and was photographed with the Prince of Wales but later admitted he had made it all up to claim £10,000 in food, clothes and accommodation.  

© Photo : Metropolitan PoliceAnh Nhu Nguyen, who has admitted fraud, claimed his wife and son died in Grenfell Tower
Anh Nhu Nguyen, who has admitted fraud, claimed his wife and son died in Grenfell Tower  - Sputnik International
Anh Nhu Nguyen, who has admitted fraud, claimed his wife and son died in Grenfell Tower

Cmdr. Cundy said several other people who had been feared missing had turned up safe and well either in Britain or in other countries.

The identities of the last two bodies — Victoria King, 71, and her daughter Alexandra Atala, 40 — were confirmed by the coroner, Dr. Fiona Wilcox, on Tuesday, November 14.

"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," said Cmdr. Cundy.

Hundreds of Tons of Debris

He said the police had conducted a fingertip search of every inch of the tower and had accumulated 17 tons of debris on each floor.

"That has all been put into storage and is now the property of the coroner. There may be miniscule amounts of human debris within it and it is likely the coroner will decide to bury it eventually, but that is a decision for her," said Cmdr. Cundy during a briefing on Thursday, November 16.

"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," he said.

Cmdr. Cundy also confirmed they were investigating seven allegations of theft from looted flats on the lower floors of the tower.

He said scaffolding was being erected around the building at the moment and the entire edifice will be wrapped in the next couple of months so it will eventually be hidden from view.

Cmdr. Cundy said he expected to conclude the examination of the building in the spring of 2018 and then hand it over to Kensington and Chelsea Council, who would then decide how and when to demolish it.

He said in the spring of next year he expected to begin physical and computerized modelling of how the fire started and spread to help the investigators understand exactly what happened and whether anyone is criminally responsible.

In June he estimated around 80 people had died and in September he said that figure may come down.

293 People in Grenfell Tower on Night of the Fire

Detectives have scoured large amounts of CCTV and police body worn video footage to identify everyone captured on film escaping Grenfell Tower after the fire started just before 1am.

​Cmdr. Cundy said he was confident 223 people escaped Grenfell Tower that night and survived, including Logan's mother, Andreia Gomes, who lived on the 21st story. 

"The scale and the challenge of the criminal investigation is huge. We have not arrested anybody yet, except for the fraud investigations," said Cmdr. Cundy.

He said his investigation was continuing in parallel to the public inquiry, which announced on Wednesday, November 15, that its timetable would be discussed at a procedural hearing on December 11.

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