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Queen Elizabeth II leads minute of silence for fire victims

After a turbulent three months which has seen Britain scarred by three deadly Islamist militant attacks and now the tower blaze, Queen Elizabeth said the mood was deeply sombre but that the British people were resolute in the face of adversity.(AP Photo/Tim Ireland). People demonstrate demanding answers over the Grenfell Tower fire, in London, Friday June 16, 2017.A huge fire started at the 24-floor Grenfell tower high-rise block in North Kensington on Wednesday, engulfing the entire building and trapping nearly 120 families inside.The fire forced residents to flee through black smoke down the single stairwell, jump out of windows or even drop their children from the building.Dozens of people attending a protest for the victims stormed the town hall in London’s richest borough yesterday afternoon, accusing the authorities of ignoring their plight.”It is hard to escape a very sombre national mood”, Elizabeth said in a message on her official birthday.Rescue personnel have had difficulty reaching the top floors of the charred, 24-story tower.Residents of the destroyed tower said May was far too slow to visit the stricken community, that the building had been unsafe and that officials have failed to give enough information and support to those who have lost relatives and their homes.”We need answers and we need answers now”, another man said through a megaphone.At least 58 people are now presumed dead following the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, the police said as the search to recover bodies continues.Engineering experts and fire safety specialists believe the building’s exterior cladding may have quickly fueled the blaze, overwhelming fire protection devices. British officials have ordered a review of other buildings that have had similar renovations.After a botched snap election that lost her party its majority in parliament, May is facing criticism for her response to the blaze which engulfed the 24-storey apartment block of social housing on Wednesday. According to the report, May’s attempt to reduce protests against her administration after the tragic fire accident met in vain, as she was greeted by angry crowds shouting “coward” after the meeting with the survivors.The tragedy has provoked a huge response from nearby communities that have donated food and shelter to the victims. May said the government would spend £5 million for clothes, food and emergency supplies to the victims.”We were aware the place was filling up with more and more smoke, we were not supposed to be starting off in smoky environments but there wasn’t a safe zone to go to”.There were also angry scenes outside the offices of the Kensington and Chelsea council, which was responsible for managing the 1970s social housing block, in a working-class enclave in one of London’s richest areas.The local Grenfell Action Group had claimed, before and during a major 10-million-pound refurbishment of Grenfell Tower a year ago, that the block constituted a fire risk and residents had warned that access to the site for emergency vehicles was “severely restricted”. They lost hope with 999, they started WhatsApping their friends and families to say goodbye.