Cladding similar to Grenfell Tower's could be on 600 other buildings, PM's office says

Cladding similar to Grenfell Tower's could be on 600 other buildings, PM's office says
The remains of Grenfell Tower in London. Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
The remains of Grenfell Tower in London. Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

After highly flammable cladding was discovered to have been one of the main contributors to the catastrophic Grenfell Tower fire that claimed at least 79 lives, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office announced on Thursday that some 600 other buildings across London have been clad in a similar material.

In an address to the House of Commons on Thursday, May said that tests are being urgently carried out in apartment blocks across the United Kingdom at a rate of 100 per day. She also urged landlords to submit their buildings for inspection.

Demonstrators hold a banner demanding justice for the victims of the recent deadly apartment block fire at Grenfell Tower.
Demonstrators hold a banner demanding justice for the victims of the recent deadly apartment block fire at Grenfell Tower. Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

"I've been informed a number of those tests have come back as combustible," and local-government bodies have been informed, May said. "I know many others living in tall residential buildings will have concerns about their safety."

Alison Donnelly, a spokesperson for May, told reporters that local authorities estimate about 600 buildings across Britain, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been fitted with the same type of cladding, according to Bloomberg.

May said that police will make an official statement about the role the cladding played in the Grenfell fire "within the next 48 hours," and appealed to the public not to form conclusion before the investigation into the blaze was complete.

An emergency worker looks out from one of the lower floor windows of the fire-gutted Grenfell Tower in London.
An emergency worker looks out from one of the lower floor windows of the fire-gutted Grenfell Tower in London. Matt Dunham/AP

"This is part of a criminal investigation," she said. "We must therefore ensure we give the police the opportunity to do the job they undertake and do nothing to prejudice that."

According to the Guardian, a fire-retardant cladding was initially proposed by architects for use on Grenfell Tower in 2012, but the council overseeing the project eventually opted for the cheaper, more flammable option.

May's government, along with the conservative-run Kensington and Chelsea council that oversaw inspection of the tower, have both faced heavy criticism for their responses to the disaster. On June 16, protesters stormed the streets of London to protest May's embattled government, toting signs that read "Justice for Grenfell" and "Knock the Tories out."

A woman touches a missing poster on a tribute wall after laying flowers on the side of Latymer Community Church next to the remnants of Grenfell Tower in London.
A woman touches a missing poster on a tribute wall after laying flowers on the side of Latymer Community Church next to the remnants of Grenfell Tower in London. Matt Dunham/AP

On June 21, May said in an address to Parliament that the support on the ground for families residing in the social housing building had not been adequate.

"People were left without belongings, without roofs over their heads, without even basic information about what had happened, what they should do, and where they should seek help," she said, according to Guardian reporter Peter Walker.

"That was a failure of the state, local and national, to help people when they needed it most. As prime minister, I apologize for that failure, and as prime minister I've taken responsibility for doing what we can to put things right."