The safety of Scotland’s tower blocks is to be investigated by the Scottish Government in the wake of the devastating Grenfell Tower fire in London, the First Minister has said.
Nicola Sturgeon said a ministerial group is to be created to review regulations of tower blocks – while Scotland’s tower blocks will undergo checks to discover if the same kind of material on Grenfell Tower had been used in their construction.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has ordered a full public inquiry into the tower block blaze which killed at least 17 people with dozens more unaccounted for.
Theresa May, who made a private visit to the site of the fire yesterday morning without meeting residents, said the “terrible tragedy” should be “properly investigated”. She also pledged to rehouse those who had been left homeless “in London and as close as possible to home”.
The inquiry follows calls from London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for action to be taken to determine the cause of the fire which rapidly spread throughout the 24-storey building in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The authorities have warned that no more survivors will be found and that it could take weeks for a thorough search of the building to be carried out.
Police said yesterday that six people have been provisionally identified, using a passport found near one body to gain a preliminary identification, but warned that there is “a risk” that not all bodies will be able to be identified.
Other means of identification will use dental records, DNA and fingerprints.
A total of 37 people are still receiving treatment for injuries sustained in the fire, of which 17 are still critical. It is believed dozens more could still be unaccounted for.
Friends and relatives are still desperately searching for news of loved ones missing after the fire, while the first • READ MORE: Grenfell Tower fire: Death toll rises to 17
victim of the tragedy was named as 23-year-old Syrian refugee Mohammed al-Haj Ali, an engineering student.
The London Fire Brigade said a ruptured gas main in the block had to be isolated before fire crews were able to put the blaze out – more than 24 hours after the alarm was first raised.
The cause of the fire, thought to have begun on the fourth floor, is still being investigated.
Questions have been raised about the safety of an external cladding put on the building during refurbishment works two years ago, while it emerged yesterday a residents’ association had raised the alarm on multiple occasions warning the building was unsafe.
Detective Chief Inspector Matt Bonner from the homicide and major crime command has been appointed to lead the investigation.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “This is a complex and protracted investigation. It is standard procedure that detectives from the homicide and major crime command lead inquiries into a major incident that requires a large amount of specialist investigation expertise.”
“The Scottish Government said officials are investigating if any high-rise buildings in Scotland are covered in the type of cladding used in the Grenfell Tower.
Edinburgh and Aberdeen City councils said they would review safety procedures in the wake of the tragedy, while other local authorities and housing associations have moved to reassure tenants.
Allan Henderson, from Highland Council, said: “We are confident of the fire safety of our housing stock in relation to building standards and conditions, but will obviously consider the factors involved in the Grenfell Tower fire as details emerge on this and implement any fire safety recommendations for social landlords.”
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Ms Sturgeon said that Scottish regulations would be reviewed by a ministerial group to ensure that “lessons are learned” from the fire. She said: “We have all been horrified by the tragic events in London this week. I’m sure the thoughts of the Parliament are with everyone affected and in particular with those who lost loved ones.
“The investigation is clearly at a very early stage and while there appear to be very serious questions to be answered, we must be careful not to speculate at this stage.”
Mary Taylor, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, said she was “shocked and saddened” by the fire.
“None of us should rush to judgment or action until we know what led to the fire and, importantly, why people could not escape,” she added.