Kids tossed from windows to escape London high-rise blaze

At least 12 people were killed in a fire that engulfed almost every floor of a 24-story high-rise apartment building in west London early Wednesday morning.

Rydon Group, the construction company which undertook the work, also declined to say whether they had been used, but said the revamp "met all required building control, fire regulation and health and safety standards".

Some residents screamed for help from behind upper-floor windows, some tried to throw children to safety, as flames raced through the high-rise Grenfell Tower block of apartments in the north Kensington district just before 1 a.m.

A website run by the "Grenfell Action Group" said residents of the tower had expressed concerns over the safety of the building, specifically pointing to fire risks.

Witnesses reported seeing people jump from the blazing tower and a woman reportedly tossed her child out of a window on the ninth or 10th floor to safety.

Authorities are trying to determine how many people are still trapped.

"I saw three people putting sheets together to climb down, but no one climbed down".

Another witness named as Jody Martin told the BBC that he battled his way his way to the second floor only to encounter choking smoke. "There's too many people stuck upstairs", she said in the footage obtained by Sky News.

By early morning, most of the block was a blackened hulk. "You can't see anything because it's all smoke".

Muslim residents of London's Grenfell Tower, who were awake during the night because they were observing Ramadan, helped save lives after a deadly fire tore through the block, witnesses say.

"I can confirm I have had firefighters manage to get through particularly arduous conditions up to the top floor", said Steve Apter from the fire brigade.

Paul Munakr, who lives on the seventh floor, escaped.

NHS England said 74 patients were treated in six hospitals across London, including 18 who are in critical care.

Fire minister Nick Hurd said checks would be carried out on tower blocks going through similar refurbishment to Grenfell Tower.

Close to Notting Hill, the tower block is around a five minute walk from the Latimer Road Underground station and near the Westfield shopping center in the west London suburbs.

"We could see a lot of children and parents screaming for 'Help!" Quite unfortunately, all fingers appear to be pointing in the same direction, at a new aluminium rainscreen cladding installed, in part, to make the building more attractive to wealthy neighbours in luxury flats nearby.

On Twitter, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the fire was declared a major incident; he and other city officials are spreading information about how survivors and families can find one another or report someone missing. Michael Paramasivan said he was watching TV in the building as his girlfriend and daughter slept when he smelled burning plastic. "It's gone. It's just a matter of time before this building collapses".

He said: "If you deny local authorities the funding they need, then there is a price that's paid".

"This is an unprecedented incident", London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton told reporters. The group shared on its blog that it had raised concerns about testing and maintenance of firefighting equipment and blocked emergency access to the site.

The service was using drones to help assess the integrity of the building, so the fire service could plan its next steps, he said.

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