- Grenfell Tower fire sees flames engulf 24-storey block
- Twelve fatalities confirmed, but police expect death toll to rise
- Trapped residents jump from upper floors and throw babies
- Eighteen people in critical care as 79 taken to hospital
- Children and elderly among the missing after London fire
- Residents claim safety warnings in 2014 'fell on deaf ears'
Fears have emerged that new plastic cladding was a main factor in the Grenfell Tower inferno and caused the housing block to "light up like a matchstick" as twelve people are confirmed dead in the blaze.
The rain-proof cladding was installed at the tower in White City, west London, in May 2016 as part of a £10million refurbishment but claims say it helped the fire spread quickly from the fourth to 27th floor.
Dozens are missing in the wake of the fire, with residents saying that "nobody on the top three floors have survived".
Twenty people are fighting for their lives in a critical condition with 78 people taken to six different hospitals across London.
Planning documents have revealed the cladding was added so the tower would be more visually pleasing when seen from the nearby flats in neighbouring affluent suburbs.
Cladding has been found to contribute to similar tower fires around the world, including residential blocks in Dubai, but with significantly less casualties. Questions will now be raised about why the Grenfell fire resulted in more people losing their lives.
Prime Minister Theresa May said there will be a "proper investigation" following the fire, adding: 'If there are any lessons to be learned they will be, and action will be taken.'
Checks are also to be carried out on tower blocks going through similar refurbishment to Grenfell Tower, policing and fire minister Nick Hurd has said.
Today, bodies were strewn through the charred block, including in its lobby. Undertakers were seen removing the dead in a delicate and treacherous recovery operation set to last several days, The Daily Mail reports.
Residents claim there were no working fire alarms, no sprinklers and the only staircase leading to safety was blocked.
A community leader working to find victims, who asked not to be named, believed nobody who lived on the top three residential floors survived and the building that was home to 600 people could soon collapse.
He said: "We have a list of missing people - there are so many. It's possible there are more than 50, possibly hundreds."
Those who managed to flee said it was "like hell on earth" inside as they scrambled over dead bodies in scenes akin to the 9/11 terror attacks in New York.
Petrified residents were seen throwing themselves and their children out of windows to avoid being burned to death - others made ropes by tying bed sheets together or used them as makeshift parachutes and jumped.
The council, the block's landlord and the contractor used to refurbish the building last year face serious questions about how the fire took hold so quickly in a tower branded a "death trap" by survivors.
Tower blocks going through similar refurbishment to Grenfell Tower will now be checked, policing and fire minister Nick Hurd has said.
With dozens now feared dead or missing and the tower's management facing a possible gross negligence manslaughter case, it has emerged:
• At least 12 people have died. Casualty figures vary but 74 are believed to be in six London hospitals, including 20 in a critical condition after the Grenfell Tower blaze started at 1am.
• Dozens more are feared dead or missing and one source claims the total toll could run into the hundreds.
• Trapped residents begged to be rescued while waving white towels, torches and mobile phones after being urged to stay in their flats.
• Petrified people were seen throwing themselves and their children out of windows - a baby tossed from the "ninth or the 10 floor" was caught and survived. The mother's fate is unknown.
• About 200 firefighters and 40 engines tackled "unprecedented" blaze and pulled 65 people from inside the blaze. Residents claim fire alarms didn't work, sprinklers failed and the only stairwell used as an exit was blocked.
• Residents gave repeated warnings about "appalling" fire safety to landlord Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), whose four bosses earned £650,000 ($1m) between them last year.
• New plastic rain-proof cladding encasing the building in £10m refurbishment "went up like a match" and helped fire spread quickly from the fourth floor to 27th floor - although the contractor insists it was safe.
• Dozens of similar blocks from the 1960s and 1970s refurbished in recent years have the same or similar new cladding - experts have said a blaze like this in a tower block was "a disaster waiting to happen".
• The local community including celebrities are bringing food and clothes to crisis centres while others offer the now-homeless places to stay.
Police have said it is not possible to confirm how many people are unaccounted for because the building is still on fire more than 12 hours after it started.
Grenfell's community action group called for the tower to be pulled down four years ago over "appalling" fire safety in the building and said today their repeated warnings to the landlord fell on "deaf ears".
A spokesman said: "It is too early to speculate what caused the fire and contributed to its spread. We will co-operate fully with all the relevant authorities to ascertain the cause of this tragedy.
"We are aware that concerns have been raised historically by residents. We always take all concerns seriously and these will form part of our forthcoming investigations. While these investigations continue with our co-operation, our core priority at the moment is our residents."
Police Commander Stuart Cundy said would be some time before police can identify the victims, adding that it was too early to speculate on the cause of the fire.
Prime Minister Theresa May was said to be "deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life" and Hurd will chair a meeting of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat to co-ordinate the response.
London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton told reporters: "This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale."
Matt Wrack of the Fire Brigades Union said "there was no way a fire should develop in this way".
Commenting on residents claims the building was unsafe he said: "Firefighters would expect to be able to fight a fire like this from within the building and that there would be a safe exit route available. In this case it was clearly not possible".
Grenfell Tower was built in 1974 and contains 120 flats thought to be home to between 400 and 600 people.
The building was refurbished recently at a cost of £8.6 million, with work completed in May last year.
Rydon, the firm that carried it out, said its work "met all required building control, fire regulation, and health and safety standards".
London Fire Brigade said the cause of the fire is still being investigated, but several residents reported one man had said it started in his faulty fridge.
The brigade said a structural engineer had checked the building and determined it was not in danger of collapse and that rescue teams were safe to be inside.
Many traumatic accounts of the fire and its impact have emerged, including a baby being dropped from the tower.
Samira Lamrani said she saw a woman try to save the baby by dropping it from a window "on the ninth or 10th floor" to waiting members of the public below.
Residents who escaped complained there had been no fire alarm, with many relying on neighbours to wake them as the blaze spread.
They said official advice in the event of a fire had been to stay inside.
Michael Paramasivan, who was in his seventh floor flat with girlfriend Hannah West, 23, and her daughter Thea, five, said: "If we'd listened to them and stayed in the flat we'd have perished."
A residents' action group said its warnings about safety had fallen on "deaf ears". A blog post from Grenfell Action Group in November said "only a catastrophic event" would expose the concerns residents had.
The group said there was one entry and exit to the tower during improvement works and it had issues with evacuation procedures.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said: "There will be a great many questions over the coming days as to the cause of this tragedy and I want to reassure Londoners that we will get all the answers."
Witnesses said the fire spread rapidly up the building, with some suggesting it was fuelled by gas.
Mr Paramasivan, 37, told the Press Association: "There were explosions everywhere you looked, lots of bangs, blue gas coming out everywhere you looked.
"About 12 floors up I saw three children waving from a window and then there was just an explosion and they disappeared.
"They were three kids, they were banging on the windows, you could see their silhouettes and then bang, it just went up."
Muna Ali, 45, said: "The flames, I have never seen anything like it, it just reminded me of 9/11.
"The fire started on the upper floors ... oh my goodness, it spread so quickly, it had completely spread within half an hour."
Robert Black, chief executive of Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, which manages Grenfell, said: "The fire at Grenfell Tower is devastating and the reports of injury and losses of life absolutely heartbreaking."
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has also demanded to know why Grenfell residents were told to "stay put" in their flats for up to an hour in the event of a fire.
Dany Cotton, Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, said there had been "a number of fatalities" and structural engineers are checking the stability of the building, which appears to have warped.
One witness said he saw several people jumping to their deaths from all floors to escape the fire.
A survivor broke down on live TV as he said his neighbour on the fourth floor had confessed that his 'fridge had exploded' before fire swamped the building - but the fire service told MailOnline it is too early to confirm the cause
Samira Lamrani, 38, said: "He was just beside himself. He was just as surprised at how quickly the fire spread as anybody else.
"I could hear him saying that he contacted the emergency services immediately and they reassured him everything would be under control within a short period of time, and obviously it wasn't."
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said questions will need to be answered over the safety of tower blocks in the capital as a result of the fire.
At least one resident is still stuck inside the block on the 11th floor, with firefighters desperately trying to reach him.
Those in the upper floors were seen flashing torches in a bid to call for help, tying bedding together to create makeshift ropes.
Panicked residents trapped high in the enormous tower were heard screaming for help as they leaned out of their windows and tied bed sheets together in an attempt to reach the ground.
Many of those evacuated said they were woken by screams, intense heat and the smell of burning plastic, thought to be white cladding that was installed on the building last year as part of a £10million refurbishment.
One woman said that residents faced "either jumping out the window with their children and risk breaking bones or staying where you were and dying".
The fire is said to have spread from the second floor to the roof of the enormous 120-flat block in just 15 minutes, with 200 firefighters struggling to bring it under control.
Eyewitness Tamara told BBC News: "You could hear people screaming 'help me, help me'.
"There were people throwing their kids out [of windows], they were shouting 'save my children'. The fire brigade were telling people to stay where they were, they were telling people 'we'll come and get you'."
Hanan Wahabi, 39, who lives on the ninth floor, said she was awoken at about 1am by smoke.
"I could see there was ash coming through the window in the living room, which was partially open,' she said, sitting with her husband and son, 16, and daughter, eight, outside a local community centre.
"I looked out and I could see the fire travelling up the block. It was literally by my window," she said. "I slammed the window shut and got out."
After the family escaped, she called her brother, who lives on the 21st floor, to see if he was all right.
"The fire hadn't reached the top of the block at that point," Wahabi said.
"He said he had been told to stay inside, stay in one room together and put towels under the door. I told him to leave. He said he was going to come. Then I called him and he said there was too much smoke."
She added: "The last time I saw him they were waving out the window, his wife and children. The last time I spoke to his wife, he was on the phone to the fire brigade.
"I've not heard from them since, the phone is not going through, the landline isn't going through. That was about 2:00am."
A witness identified as Daniel told BBC Radio London that people on the upper floors were trapped as the flames rose higher and higher.
"People have been burned," he said. "I have seen it with my own eyes. And I have seen people jump."
Another survivor at the community centre, wearing shorts, a T-shirts and trainers and with a blanket draped around his shoulders, said he saved his own life with just moments to spare.
"My neighbour's smoke alarm went off and I thought he might have done some cooking," he said, giving only his first name of Eddie, 55.
"I went into the bathroom and I got the towel and wet it and wrapped it around my head. I run out into the hallway, close the door behind me and ran for where I thought the fire exit was.
"I didn't find it. It was a matter of life and death - I thought, 'If I'm in this for another five seconds, I'm a goner'."
"Then on the ground there was a fireman, he touched my leg and pulled me into where the fire stairwell was. You couldn't see anything. I just ran down the stairs. There wasn't that many people on the stairs.
"Loads of people haven't got out of the building."
Abdul Hamid, 51, lives on the 16th floor lost everything he owned but counted himself lucky to be alive.
"I have nothing. My passport was in there - it's gone. I'm meant to be flying to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj. Now I'm homeless."
Commander Stuart Cundy, from the Metropolitan Police, said: "All the emergency services and other agencies continue to work together at the scene.
"I can confirm there have been a number of fatalities and others receiving medical care. We will be soon making contact with next of kin.
"Anyone who is concerned about loved ones in relation to the fire should contact Casualty Bureau which has been opened following the fire. If you do not get through immediately please do try again."
Among those being evacuated was what a man described as a "heavily disabled woman", who was being carried down the stairs by firefighters.
Mouna Elogbani, who lives on the 11th floor with her husband and three children, aged 13, 10 and two, said she got a phone call from a neighbour warning her that the block was alight.
She said: "I was in my home going to bed, It was around 1.30am and my children were asleep.
"My friend called on the phone and told me that the building was on fire, it was coming towards our floor and we needed to get out.
"I woke up my children and we carried them out of the flat - but when we opened the door to escape the flames burst into the house and we had to shut it again. We got out through a fire escape and down the stairs."
"I know that there are people trapped on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd floors and one of my neighbours has passed away."
The 27-storey block, believed to contain around 120 flats, underwent a £10million refurbishment last year.
Mrs Elogbani said: "It was not safe anymore. They took away the security - it was no longer 100 per cent safe.
When asked about worries about how it would cope in a major fire she said: "I wouldn't be surprised'. She said: 'We've lost everything. I am feeling sick, shocked and angry".
A woman resident said: "Some residents did escape. I heard some people shouting help from their windows from 20 floors. I saw them flashing their lights... and then they stopped.
"I don't know what happened - or if they are safe. It was really horrible."
Schoolboy Omar Kalam, 11, was standing anxiously at the emergency service cordon with father Walid, 44. "My brother has friends and they live in there," he said. "I'm not sure if they are all right yet."
Parents from nearby Kensington Aldridge Academy, where Omar attends, had been told the school was closed, his father said.
assima Boutrig, who lives opposite the building, said she was awakened by sirens and smoke so thick that it filled her home as well.
"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."
Boutrig said her friend's brother, wife and children lived in the building and that her friend was waiting to find out if they were OK.
Flatowners in their pyjamas have been evacuated as police are pushing people away from the area for fear the block will collapse due to 'chunks' of debris flying off from the tower.
The cordon around the block has been pushed back by police and homes surrounding it evacuated amid fears that the building could collapse in the densely populated area of London.
Police, 40 fire engines and helicopters rushed to the scene as horrifying pictures emerged on social media showing giant flames licking up the side of the block.
Fire crews from North Kensington, Kensington, Hammersmith and Paddington and from surrounding fire stations are in attendance. The cause of the fire is not known at this stage.
Tim Downie, who lives a few hundred feet from the building, told Sky News: "The acrid smell is just horrendous. The building has pretty much burnt out, there are just a few bits that are still not burning.
"Every single window is gutted. There is debris falling off it. The heat was extraordinary. The fire has wrapped itself around the block. People on the street said it started on the fourth floor and spread all the way up and around."
The London Fire Brigade said: "Crews continue to work hard at tower block fire in North Kensington. Fire is from 2nd to top floor of 27 storey building."
Firemen were inside trying to get people out of the building, which was built in 1974 and part of the Lancaster West Estate.
Residents have been asked to shine torches and phones out of their windows so the fire brigade knew there was someone who needed rescuing.
By 3am, at least one torch was still shining from the block, which was ablaze on two sides as hundreds of concerned neighbours gathered near the building to watch and try to contact those inside.
Jody Martin said he got to the scene just as the first fire engine was arriving. He told the BBC: "I grabbed an axe from the fire truck, it looked like there was a bit of confusion about what to do.
"I ran around the building looking for a fire escape and couldn't see any noticeable fire escapes around the building. A lot of debris falling down.
"I eventually gained entry on to the second floor, and once I got to the corridor I realised there was so much smoke there."
He added that given the thickness of the smoke, he would be surprised if anyone could have left the building without assistance.
"I watched one person falling out, I watched another woman holding her baby out the window... hearing screams, I was yelling everyone to get down and they were saying 'We can't leave our apartments, the smoke is too bad on the corridors'," he said.
Local councillor Nick Paget-Brown described the blaze as a "very, very severe fire". He told Sky News: "Clearly it's an absolutely devastating fire.
"Several hundred would have been in there. It's a question of establishing how many people were in there at the time of the fire.
"I'm really not in any position to answer any questions about the structure.
"Clearly there's a lot more work to do to evacuate the building and to establish how safe it is."
Fire crews from north Kensington, Kensington, Hammersmith and Paddington and surrounding stations were at the scene with the fire burning from the second to the top floor.
The cause of the fire was not known at this stage, London Fire Brigade said.
Fabio Bebber wrote on Twitter: "More screams for help as the fire spreads to another side of the building.
"We can see how quick the fire spreads via the external panels. It's unbearable hearing someone screaming for their lives at #grenfelltower."
One neighbour, Derry Glover, told MailOnline he first heard sirens at around 1am. He added that he believed someone had jumped from the building.
The London Fire Brigade received multiple calls to the fire which spread from the second floor to the top floor of the 27 floor building.
Assistant Commissioner Dan Daly said: "Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus are working extremely hard in very difficult conditions to tackle this fire. This is a large and very serious incident and we have deployed numerous resources and specialist appliances."
"The Brigade was called to the fire at 12.54am and is still at the scene. Fire crews from North Kensington, Kensington, Hammersmith and Paddington and from surrounding fire stations are in attendance. The cause of the fire is not known at this stage," the brigade said in a statement.
A group of people trying to help out police were forced back because they were walking towards the burning building. A witness told BBC Radio: "There are parents and kids in pajamas waiting outside."
Residents still in the building had been told by firefighters to line the bottom of their doors to stop smoke getting in. Meanwhile, police conducted a roll call of flats to work out who might still be trapped inside.
George Clarke, the presenter of Amazing Spaces, told Radio 5 Live: "I was in bed and heard 'beep, beep, beep' and thought, 'I'll get up and run downstairs as quickly as I could".
"I thought it might be a car alarm outside and saw the glow through the windows. I'm getting covered in ash, that's how bad it is. I'm 100 metres away and I'm absolutely covered in ash. It's so heartbreaking, I've seen someone flashing their torches at the top level and they obviously can't get out.
"The guys are doing an incredible job to try and get people out that building, but it's truly awful."
Clarita Ghavimi, 66, who lives on seventh floor, said she was told to leave the building amid fears it might collapse.
"At 12.30am I heard a loud alarm and I woke up," she told MailOnline.
"Then I heard a voice on the speaker saying 'You need to get out, the building's going to collapse.' I went to the door and my flat started smoking so I grabbed a towel and made it damp to stop the smoke."
She added: "When I opened my door two men carried me down the stairs. I am concerned that my son doesn't think that I'm safe. I've tried to get in contact with him but I can't remember his number. I feel like I have some smoke inhalation."
Ms Ghavimi explained that she only has her bus pass on her. "My passport, everything is in there."
Shocked bystanders filmed the blaze from the ground, and shouted at trapped people waving from their windows to "cover their mouths".
"Cover your mouth with a wet towel," they yelled. "Don't panic. It started on the fourth floor or something. There are people in their windows, putting their heads out."
An eye witness said: "There are about 15 fire engines but are struggling to get in and out because there is just one narrow road in and one narrow road out."
Another added: "Sirens flying up and down the road and police helicopter hovering for nearly 2 hours has been the noise tonight. Terrible."
Tim Donwie wrote: "Raging fire near Latimer Road. Whole block of 24 floors up in flames. People still trapped inside. Horrendous."
One resident wrote on Twitter: "I'm stuck in this block!!! Can't leave my house because I'll die from the smoke."
Celeste Thomas added: "Police have moved everyone back out of direct sight but can hear cracking and debris falling.
"Police have been asking everyone to go inside. Fire spread and not yet showing signs of coming under control."
A third added: "24 storeys burning in West London area. All floors and columns burning."
Met Police said in a statement: "Police were called at 1.16am on Wednesday, 14 June to reports of a large fire at a block of flats in the Lancaster West Estate, W11.
"Officers, the London Fire Brigade and the London Ambulance Service are currently at the scene. An evacuation process is underway.
"At this stage we are aware of two people being treated at the scene for smoke inhalation. We await an update as to whether there are any further injuries.
"The Local Authority has been informed. Cordons are in place and it is advised that the estate and surrounding area is avoided."