this is bbc world news. i'm babita sharma. our top story: at least 12 people are known to have died after a huge fire swept through a west london tower block, but many people are still missing. eyewitnesses say the flames engulfed the 2a—storey building within 30 minutes, with people desperately trying to escape. they need to ring 999! there's a dedicated line for this incident! 0k? it was so dark and so much smoke was there. there were people running down the stairs, some with luggage. so much confusion. firefighters are still at the scene after battling for 21 hours to contain the fire. around 70 people are being treated in six london hospitals. 20 people are in a critical condition. also this hour, our other top stories: gunshots. a gunman opens fire at a congressional baseball practice. a senior republican is among the injured.
we are united in our shock. we are united in our anguish. we are united in our shock. we are united in ouranguish. an we are united in our shock. we are united in our anguish. an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. welcome to this special edition of bbc world news as firefighters in west london are still at the scene of a horrendous fire that has killed at least 12 people. the blaze at the 2a—storey tower block began in the early hours of wednesday morning. many people are still missing and the police have warned the number of dead is expected to rise significantly. our special coverage begins with this report from our uk home editor, mark easton.
oh my god, they're screaming! it is a tragedy that plays to our darkest fears. there was smoke everywhere, literally everywhere. there was people downstairs, bits of the block, cladding, falling off the block. that was on fire. screaming. people screaming. it wasjust people jumping out, literally. and putting sheets down to try to get out of the building. windows exploding, big, massive pieces of debris falling to the floor. we came here, saw people jumping off. people calling... you saw people jumping off? yeah. people had jumped off because they had no other option to. how high up? the top floor. i saw someone jump. someone was on fire and they jumped too. he didn't make it. some people have picked up their kids and threw them out for the police to pick them up because there was no other way out of the building.
the blaze tore through the 2a—storey council block in this part of north kensington. on the seventh floor, this family were led to safety. there was smoke everywhere, people screaming. the neighbours were coming out. there was a fireman there going, "get out, get out." iran back injust my boxer shorts, put my dressing gown on, grabbed the little girl, put her under my dressing gown to cover her face from the smoke, got my girlfriend up. with dawn, came grim, if expected, news that lives had been lost. many people, numb with shock, frantically searched to find missing friends and relatives. this woman's sister and 12—year—old nephew were unaccounted for. my sister with her son, yeah. how old was he? he is 12 years old. that is why i am scared. a 12—year—old boy? as well as the smoke
and the thick smell in the air, a tension, numb shock, hangs over this area. in the 21st century, in a country with some of the strictest fire regulations in the world, a desperate tragedy like this just should not happen. what floor are you on?! huh?! seven, yeah? well into the morning, the crowds watching the horror unfold in front of them reported seeing people still trapped in the block. i saw somebody there. waving, in white. in a white shirt? white shirt, yeah. a man was eventually brought out by the emergency services at noon. this off—duty nurse helped tend to some of the injured rescued from the building. i have seen some things, but today... i can't even describe it. there are mothers that have come out and lost their children.
there are firefighters that have come out injured. we don't know if they are even going to come out safe. people have lost their homes, children have seen things, people jumping out the window. we just need to rebuild as a community now. this is a neighbourhood that feels ignored. there's anger on the streets. people demanding answers. this is your building, isn't it? we have a number of high—rise buildings here and of course in other parts of london. they do have to meet stringent safety and fire safety standards, and in a refurbishment, there will be a thorough inspection by the fire authorities, so... doesn't appear to have worked, though, does it? it clearly hasn't worked, and we will need to get the bottom of what has gone wrong. the streets of north kensington are littered with ashes. the charred homework of a school child blown from grenfell tower. this neighbourhood is also shrouded with grief from a tragedy that
will not pass for a long time.. mark easton, bbc news, north kensington. live now to the scene. our reporter, sarah corker, is there. we spoke a while ago and you can still see flames. it is almost 23 hours on. just behind me you can still see the black smouldering wreck that was grenfell tower. firefighters are still working. throughout the day they have checked the building and said it is not at risk of collapse. but it will still bea risk of collapse. but it will still be a very long recovery operation. the questions now for investigators is what caused this fire. that is still unknown. the building was supposed to work in a way that
individual flats, when they do get satellite, it is supposed to contain it. they did not happen. —— set alight. why did the fire spread so quickly? eyewitnesses said the whole building went ablaze in 15 minutes. there was a project last year that has somehow compromised the safety of the building, that is one line of investigation. some say the material on the outside set the whole building on fire. it is reminiscent of this time yesterday. just about an hour away from the fire that began and it took hold. there is clearly shock among the people living there. how are people feeling now? yeah. well, the community response really has been quite overwhelming. after the horror of last night, hundreds are now
homeless. some are still unaccounted for. friends and family are anxiously waiting for news of their loved ones. many of them are now bedding down for the night in evacuation centres across the burrough. three because of the day, people, neighbours, residents, they have come out to give food and water and quotes and anything they can do. in the past few hours we have been here, we have seen people donating warm food, pizza, cakes. there is a sense this diverse community is pulling together at a time of need. we do know that firefighters are still battling the blaze in the upperfloors of still battling the blaze in the upper floors of the grenfell tower. do we know how many people are there doing that at the moment? do we know how many people are there doing that at the moment7m do we know how many people are there doing that at the moment? it is difficult to tell at the moment. we are quite far away from the tower block. this cordon is in place for safety reasons. fire crews have come
in and out as the evening has gone on. we havejust seen in and out as the evening has gone on. we have just seen a in and out as the evening has gone on. we havejust seen a police vehicle come with around 10—12 officers getting out. they are here officers getting out. they are here of course at the cordon to reassure the public but also to make sure that people are not getting too close to the building. it is likely they will be here through the course of the evening. thank you. sarah corker reporting live from west london. i was in the area shortly after the fire took hold and it really was like nothing i have ever seen before. plumes of smoke in the air covering west london. a truly shocking thing to happen. that shock has filtered through to date. the building had recently been refurbished. there are many questions being asked how this happened. the british government has ordered a check on fires with, work. what could this mean for safety
measures and high—rise buildings around the? like many cities around the world, london has seen the rise of the skyscraper. homes and offices, perched high above street level, with a host of safety rules designed to resist fire. but eight years ago, a blaze at this tower block in south london killed six people. southwark council was fined for breaching fire regulations. and there are plenty of expert voices today saying that the lessons of what happened here at lakanal house have not been learned. the fire in west london last night, this morning, has demonstrated that they are still at risk in their own homes. these fires shouldn't be happening in 21st century london. we've got the ability to stop them from happening, and when fires to break out,
to restrict them to small areas of flats or buildings. one key question in the spotlight today is about the design of tower blocks and how they're meant to keep people safe in case a fire breaks out. now normally, a fire hose can only reach about 15 metres. grenfell tower stands 67 metres high. in america, they rely on what's called "active safety". sprinklers fight fires in every room, but that can be expensive. the basic principle here, until recently, has been passive safety, designing the building to confine any blaze to a single room. clearly, that's failed. investigators will want to know why. another focus will be on the cladding fitted to the outside of the building, panels to improve insulation and the look of older buildings like grenfell tower. but dozens of fires have been linked to cladding around the world. two years ago, a skyscraper in dubai caught fire and the cladding was blamed. new rules there have tightened up on the kind of materials that can be used. investigators here will explore what role the cladding might have played. in the uk, it has to be, of what we call,
of limited combustibility. i'm sure that's going to be questioned now after this fire. what exactly that means and what these types of cladding systems are adding to the fire load on the building. it was after the second world war that councils answered the housing crisis by moving away from old terraced homes into new high—rise tower blocks. but their safety from fire depends on good design and careful maintenance. the london mayor says people living in tower blocks will now need to be reassured, and fire professionals are shocked by how this blaze spread. literally every single floor was on fire, internally. we don't usually see that. you see one floor, two floors, and then a hopping from floor to floor, maybe, over a period of time. but you would not normally see an entire facade on fire and then all of the interior on fire at the same time. so that's what's very unusual. so the fire overcame whatever safety features were in place. last year, the government promised a review into fire
safety in tower blocks, but then delayed it. this disaster now makes that work a priority. david shukman, bbc news. we can speak now to robert solomon from the us national fire protection association. hejoins me via webcam from pembroke, massachusetts. welcome to the programme. firstly, what is your assessment of what you have seen unfold here in west london? surprise, shock, sadness for the fatalities we are hearing about already. your other reporters said the speed of which the fire seems to go the speed of which the fire seems to 9° up the speed of which the fire seems to go up the side of the building is very surprising and very shocking to us. we know there are many questions to be answered as an investigation gets under way. what do you think in your experience the key questions
will be they will want to find out? i think if you approach it, that is all i can do, conducting an investigation, as we have done in the past on significant fires, predominantly in the us, we start to look at everything. we look at building construction. is it fire resistive construction? what about the interiorfinishes? resistive construction? what about the interior finishes? what resistive construction? what about the interiorfinishes? what about the interiorfinishes? what about the design of the exit stairs in the building? stamp pipe systems, you call them damp pipe systems. that is all on the table. a fire this significant, you really need to look at everything in the building design and recent renovations. you also have to look at inspection records. were being tested, maintained? ——
we re were being tested, maintained? —— were systems. many people think it is the fire service, the building department, but it is the owner that has to do this. all of those things will be on the table. what we do know is the fire began in the middle pa rt know is the fire began in the middle part of this 2a—storey block. in 15 minutes it took hold of the entire facade of the building. how common is that? does that give us a clue as to how it started? it does not give us to how it started? it does not give usa to how it started? it does not give us a clue as to what started it. we have seen similarfire us a clue as to what started it. we have seen similar fire scenarios in the middle east. one of your reporters talked about the new year's eve fire in dubai. that was similar. afire year's eve fire in dubai. that was similar. a fire started on a lower level and it did involve the exteriorfacade, racing level and it did involve the exterior facade, racing up level and it did involve the exteriorfacade, racing up the level and it did involve the exterior facade, racing up the side of the building. in that circumstance, it is our understanding a test protocol we
utilise in the us had not been applied to those particular panels in the fire in dubai. in the us, us codes have a specific test for facade designs, cladding designs, incorporating combustible materials. the whole purpose of that test is to make sure that the material does not ignite, burn, but if it does start to burn, it can only do it in a slow way. we would not expect it, in other words, a material that would move up the building within 30 minutes, that material would be highly unlikely to have passed the us test we apply to those types of facade systems. we appreciate your time, robert. thank you. and if you want to find out more about the fire then i do want to point you in the direction of our special live page —
where you'll find the latest news updates and information from emergency services — as well as tweets and social media posts from on the ground. you'll find that at bbc.com/news let's take a look at some of the day's other news: the head of the us federal reserve bank has raised american interest rates by 0.25%. per cent. the benchmark rate will now be between one and one—and—a—quarter per cent. we'll have more on that in asia business report in a few minute's time. president trump is being investigated for possible obstruction of justice — that's according to the washington post. the move by special counsel robert mueller to investigate the president's conduct marks a major turning point in the fbi investigation into alleged russia interference in the us election. police in california say three people have been killed in a shooting at a ups parcels depot in san francisco. the gunman, who was dressed in a company uniform, also died. police said he shot himself when they approached him. two other people were wounded. now to our other major story.
a senior politician has been critically injured in a gun attack in the us state of virgina. steve scalise, who's a whip in the house of representatives, was one of five people shot as they practised for a charity baseball game. the gunman died after police returned fire. laura bicker has sent this report from virginia. it was a regular morning baseball practice the gunmen tried to turn into a killing field. the horror was ca ptu red into a killing field. the horror was captured on camera by a dog walker. the shots rang out for several minutes, with few pauses. if that quy minutes, with few pauses. if that guy ok? one victim was steve scalise. his colleagues could not reach him as the firing continued. we could see steve scalise out in
the field. he dragged himself there from second base, about ten or 15 yards into the field do is to be further away from the gunmen. but he was motionless out there so i to him but there were still shots going overhead from both sides and, so, finally when we heard that the shooter was down i just finally when we heard that the shooter was down ijust ran low out to steve and started putting pressure on the wounds. the gunmen we re pressure on the wounds. the gunmen were 66—year—old james hodgkinson from illinois. he had antirepublican and anti— donald trump faced social media posts. he died in hospital after being shot by police. survivors say would've a massacre without their help. they are coming to terms with having to dodge bullets on a day for batting practice. the emotional shock of seeing your friends shot while you are helpless. you have a baseball bat, they have a rifle. you are
defenceless. the shooting has shaken washington. both sides of the political aisle seemed shocked. when you go to baseball practice for a game for charity and you have to dodge wallets and you watch your collea g u es dodge wallets and you watch your colleagues lay in the field, yeah, it is my breaking point. this has to stop. hate have to stop. we are united in our shock and anguish. an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. president donald trump raised all those who served in congress. we may have our differences but we do well in times like these, to remember that eve ryo ne like these, to remember that everyone who served in our nation's capital is here because, above all, they love our country. it is not yet known whether or not this was an assassination attempt. there are reports that the gunmen asked
whether or not this was a democrat or republican practice. the annual game between the two sides was due to be held tomorrow. it has been held since 1909 and is a genuine moment of political bipartisanship. it is now marred by violence. our correspondent, rajini vaidyanathan has spent most of the day at the scene of the attack, in alexandria, virginia. the area here is still very much a crime scene. behind me there are still police tape and a number of vehicles as the fbi continues their investigations. we had an update from the fbi. they issued a clarification confirming that five individuals were shot earlier today at the baseball game. that includes the gunmen. they also confirmed media reports that the gunmen was james hodgkinson, 66 old man from illinois who died from gunshot wounds to the torso. the fbi also issued information about missed the hodgkinson. he is from illinois but
he moved to this area in virginia much of this year where he had been living, perhaps on this street, out ofa living, perhaps on this street, out of a cargo van. they did not give us any more information about whether or not he was on the radar of the authorities. the fbi said they are not going to talk about the character or the nature of the case. one thing that local police here say they are doing is canvassing people door to door to reassure them that this incident is now over and this community is safer. at the moment thatis community is safer. at the moment that is one of the concerns people have here. while this investigation is still ongoing. returning now to our main story is our light and west london fire. reverend dr michael long is a minister at the notting hill methodist church close to the grenfell tower. he gave me a sense of the mood there. a matter of disbelief and horror. we have had a huge amount of
clothing and full donated to our church. people are turning up out of the blue and working well as a team. i have not seen a single ego inside all day and people have worked well together. the response has been overwhelming. we have been seeing it again on social media, or the images of the people wanting to come out and help. i am wondering, of the people wanting to come out and help. iam wondering, however, and help. iam wondering, however, andi and help. iam wondering, however, and i am sure you have encountered people who have lost their homes but survived this tragic fire... what are they telling you? how do they feel about the position they find themselves in now? i have not had much chance to talk to people affected in that way, particularly. our role on the edge of the cordon
has been opening up to be available to whoever might need us and the local community have responded astoundingly. we have had people of all faiths and no faith in helping. what is the community like there?m isa what is the community like there?m is a very mixed and diverse community. a community of some people who have been here a very long time and know each other quite well who live in the flats for many yea rs well who live in the flats for many years and have built a strong and good relationship. many have family who live close nearby. it is a mixture of a very diverse but also a close community as well. what is your advice to the people who attend your advice to the people who attend your church, that you are giving now? many people are still shocked and some are angry about why this has happened. i think it is hard to find words that are adequate for such a situation as this. we try to give people hope and try to help people recognise that there is an
enormous amount of goodwill for the people who have lost everything and for whom this has been the most terrible of days. it is nearly 24 hours since the fire broke out. let's leave you now with some of the images from west london. anybody in the building, ring 999! there is a dedicated line it was dark and smoke, people running down the stairs, people with luggage, there was so much confusion. there was no alarm bells whatsoever. this was horrific. people jumping out. a man through two of his children. the next 24 hours will bring us some
cooler and fresher weather but will not last long the warmth will return for the weekend. we certainly pulled some warmth up from the south during wednesday. 27 degrees without top temperature at heathrow. thursday, however, will be a different day. the call from pushers in from the west and behind that some fresh air will be introduced. ahead of the front a warm and muggy start to thursday morning, particularly in our big town and city centres. 16, 17, 18 degrees. with sunshine, that are richer in eastern england will rise quickly through the morning. here is our weather front, rise quickly through the morning. here is our weatherfront, alcohol front. at this stage showery rain and is that pushes through it will introduce that fresh air from the west. south—west england will still enjoy it sunshine but the ritual of dropped off. still some warmth clinging on across the south—east
and east anglia. 22, 20 three degrees here and mainly fine afternoon across the midlands. tour and counter showers as we push across england, quite a lot fresher there. across scotland they will be cloudy periods, i suspect, we showery rain. equally bright spells in between and breezy towards the north—west. similar stories in northern ireland with bright spells but large areas of cloud and showery rain. we returned into wales where it is fine through the afternoon but the ten richer only reaching as high as 17 or 18 degrees. with a fresher in place, thursday night should be a little more comfortable for sleeping, i suspect. little more comfortable for sleeping, isuspect. 11 little more comfortable for sleeping, i suspect. 11 there in aberdeen. out in the countryside will be even a little cooler than that. fresh start to friday that a bright start with sunshine. however there will be changes through the day. more cloud into northern ireland, scotland, parts of northern england and north wales, patchy rain moving through as well. also you will start to notice us to temperatures creeping upwards again
and that is what will take this into the weekend. this warm front bringing some patchy rain across northern areas but also introducing some warm airfrom northern areas but also introducing some warm air from the south. you will notice an area of high pressure building in from the south as well. across england and wales, saturday will not only be warm and sunny. 28 in london. showery rain for northern ireland and western scotland. breezy here as well. on sunday the rain is confined to the far north—west. a lot of sunshine, humid air in place and the temperature could reach as high as 30 or 31 degrees. this is bbc world news. the headlines: at least 12 people are now known to have died in a huge fire which engulfed a residential tower block in west london. the number of dead is expected to rise as fire crews carry out a complex recovery operation. many who escaped have pointed to the building's cladding as a possible explanation for the rapid spread of the blaze. a residents' group had warned repeatedly about the risk of a serious fire. the prime minister, theresa may,
said she was deeply saddened by the loss of life. five republican politicians have been wounded after a gunman opened fire as they were practicing for a charity baseball game in virginia. the house majority whip, steve scalise, was shot in the hip and is in a critical condition. more now on our top story.