welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name's mike embley. our top stories: 17 people are confirmed dead in london's tower block fire. the prime minister orders a full public inquiry as local people demand answers. at the moment we are grieving but there is a bubbling anger underneath and we want to see someone held accountable for this. dozens of people are still missing. families are still desperately searching for relatives. doctors say the american student freed this week by north korea is still in a coma and has suffered severe brain damage. and a new chapter in us—cuba relations. after two years of tourism and trade, will president trump turn back the clock? hello.
as questions multiply about the fire that engulfed a west london tower block, there's growing anger among local people about warnings they say were ignored. britain's prime minister bore the brunt of some of that anger today, and london's mayor told a furious crowd at the scene they should not have to wait for answers. police say the current death toll of 17 could rise significantly. it will take weeks to search the building. the first victim has been named as mohammed al—hajali, a syrian refugee who was 23. mark easton begins our coverage. some of his report you may find distressing. slowly, inch by painstaking inch, fire officers continue their grim and dangerous work. amid the soot—blackened shell of what was once home to hundreds are some who did not make it out. exactly how many, we do not know, but police today said they hoped the final death toll would not
be in three figures. the scale of this tragedy is yet to become clear. sadly i can confirm the number of people who have died is now 17. we do believe that that number will sadly increase. there are 37 people receiving treatment, of which 17 are still in critical care. the brother of these two syrians was one of those who lost his life. mohammed alhajali was an engineering student seeking a better life in britain. omar was with him as firemen tried to evacuate the blazing building but the pair got separated. i looked behind me, i could not see my brother. i said, my brother, my brother, where is he? they were ignoring downstairs. i went outside. i called him. i said, where are you? he said, i'm in the flat. i said, why could you not come? they brought us outside.
i thought you were with us. he said, nobody brought me outside. he said, why have you left me? he said, why? i didn't leave! i thought they took him outside with me. they didn't. they left him. younger brother hashim continued to talk to mohammed on his mobile phone until there was no reply. he said, please tell mum to pray for me. he was telling me to put the quran for him. he said, are you happy? are you happy with me? do you have any problem with me? isaid, no, who has a problem with you? you have a sweet heart, mohammed. you'll make it out. then he said... he was speaking slowly... he said, i can't... he said, i cannot breath. i'm dying.
they left me. why? relatives of five—year—old isaac paulos confirmed today that the little boy was among those who died in the fire. the agony of a wounded neighbourhood is written on a wall, the desperation of people searching for family and friends. prayers and solace from near and far. for the last two days, jason garcia has been searching for his 12—year—old cousin jessica urbano. we feel helpless really. we are hoping that, by putting up posters, sharing her image on social media, and talking to people like yourself, that maybe someone with information will get in touch. thy kingdom come... this evening, jessica's parents and friends gathered together in a community that is craving answers but complains of delays and evasion. at the moment we're grieving, but there's a bubbling anger underneath and we want to see
somebody held accountable for this. the love and generosity that's poured into north kensington in the last couple of days cannot make up for the numbing sense of loss. the prime minister made a private visit to the scene today, speaking to emergency workers before announcing there will be a full public inquiry into what went wrong. when i spoke to the emergency services, they told me the way this fire progressed and how it took hold of the building was rapid, ferocious and unexpected. we've to get to the bottom of this. the truth has got to come out, and it will. the labour leaderjeremy corbyn also went in north kensington, insisting he would speak up for the community. shock and grief are being joined by outrage and anger. the questions are raining down, rather like the charred lumps of cladding, which locals are holding up as possible evidence that people were housed in a preventable death trap.
london mayor sadiq khan was heckled by a small group of people on a visit to grenfell tower today. what's he gonna say? i don't want to hear this rubbish. feelings are running high. understandably, the residents are very angry and concerned and have genuine questions that demand answers and so whereas... woman: someone needs to be held accountable. these deaths could have been prevented! the concerns are notjust about what went wrong in north kensington, they're also about what could go wrong in thousands of tower blocks across britain. residents at trellick tower, who can see grenfell tower from their balconies, now have a constant and disturbing reminder of the risks of high—rise living. there were hundreds in the tower block when the fire broke out, many of them asleep. whole families are unaccounted for. lucy manning reports on the search for friends and relatives. again, there are upsetting
details coming up. mohammed hakim fears he's lost everyone — his mother, father, two brothers and sister. all his extended family supporting him now rushed to the fire when the calls of panic came. i spoke to her and the last few words she said to me was, "please forgive me if i've said anything to upset you or hurt you. i don't think we're going to make it out of the building." they were supposed to be celebrating next month. his sister, husna, was getting married, but the entire family were trapped on the 17th floor. they were reciting duas from the koran. and it wasjust heartbreaking, and then itjust cut out. and then i rang husna. she was, like, we're not going to make it, we can't make it, we can see flames under the door. we can see flames under the door. i kept saying, try and put things
under the door to stop the smoke coming in and get as low as you can and open the windows. someone's going to come, call the fire brigade, do something. and then she stopped talking. all i could hear was this crackling noise in the background, because the phone was still on, but she wasn't saying anything. the not knowing is killing me. i really need to find out where they are. the family stood helpless outside, unable to rescue them. this is the worst thing i remember in my life. i saw my uncle, from the 17th floor. he opened the window. he kept shouting, "please, help us, get us out." he was saying allah's name, and all this. i kept looking at him, helpless. mohammed, it must be extremely difficult, just not knowing? not losing one member of my family, but losing all five, the whole, entire family.
i don't have my parents any more and you only get one set of parents in this world. and i had three siblings. they are all gone, in the space of a couple of hours, after leaving their house, they are all gone. and no—one wants to give us any information about their whereabouts, if they are still within the building, or not. they still have hope, but feel bereft of help. adel chaoui is another relative deep in grief and frustration. ba by leena belkadi, just six months old, is missing, along with her mum, farah, and her dad, omar. they eventually found two of the baby's sisters in hospital. we cajoled and begged a nurse to go upstairs and after ten minutes, one of them offered to do so and came down and told us they had a child that matched the description, did we want to come up and have a look. we found one of the children there, the younger. my brother's looking around, and he's staring at another bed
and asks farah's older sister to have a look. farah's older sister says, "that's the other child, that's the older one." they were beds apart and nobody in authority was making any effort to identify them. you've had to do this all yourself? we've had to do it ourselves. so many families here are looking, hoping, dreading the news that may come. lucy manning, bbc news, west london. and you can find all the very latest on our website. you'll find a live page constantly updated by our reporters, stories from the families affected and the local community. there's also an in depth account of the make up of the tower and what we know about the fire so far. just go to bbc.com/news. let's take a look at some of the other stories the news:
chinese officials say they suspect a "criminal act" caused the explosion that's killed at least eight people and injured 65 outside a nursery in the eastern province ofjiangso. it's not yet known if children are among the dead. it happened as parents were waiting to take their children home. president trump has said reports that he's under criminal investigation are part of what he called the greatest single witch—hunt in american political history, led by some very bad people. mr trump said on twitter he was accused of obstructing justice over something for which there was zero proof — claims that his campaign colluded with russia to influence last year's election. the jury in bill cosby‘s sex assault trial has told the judge they are deadlocked on day four of their deliberations. thejudge has instructed them to keep on trying for a verdict and they have been sent home for the night. bill cosby denies drugging and assaulting a woman at his home near philadelphia in 200a. if the seven men and five women cannot reach a unanimous decision a mistrial will be declared.
leading american politicians have played their traditional charity baseball game a day after a leading republican and three others were shot as they practiced for the game. the democrats won the game 11—2 but in a gesture of unity, they've let the republicans keep the trophy until the house majority whip, steve scalise, gets better. he is critically ill but his condition has improved. greece will receive another 8.5 billion euros from the eurozone for its bailout programme. european finance ministers reached agreement on the payment, although it is subject to approval by the imf board. greece has repayments on other loans due next month which it could not otherwise have made. doctors treating the american student who was released from a north korean prison in a coma now say he has suffered severe brain injury. otto warmbier was freed on tuesday and is back home in cincinnati. it's not clear how he sustained the brain damage. he was given a long prison sentence in march 2016 for trying to steal a propaganda banner.
sarah corker reports. this is otto warmbier, a 22—year—old american student pictured during his trial in pyongyang last year. clearly distraught, he was sentenced to 15 years hard labour for stealing a propaganda sign from a hotel. he is now in a coma. north korea say shortly after the trial he contracted botulism, a rare illness that causes paralysis. but otto's father strongly refutes that. even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing the coma — and we don't — there is no excuse for any civilised nation to have kept his condition secret and denied him top—notch medical care for so long. otto had visited north korea as part of a group tour. he arrived back in the united states back on tuesday and doctors
treating him in cincinnati say they have found no signs of botulism. his neurological condition can be best described as a state of unresponsive wakefulness. he has spontaneous eye opening and blinking, however, he shows no signs of understanding language. it comes as tensions between the united states and north korea are mounting over pyinyang's nuclear and missile programmes. the us diplomat who negotiatied otto's release also met this week with three other us citizens being detained by the authoritarian regime. i call on them to release the other americans being held. no other family should habve to endure what warmbiers have. doctors said otto suffered extrensive loss of brain tissue and his family described it as a bittersweet feeling to finally have him home.
sarah corker, bbc news. stay with us on bbc news. still to come: the funnier side of his annual phone—in — russia's president putin offers asylum to former fbi directorjames comey. there was a bomb in the city centre. a code word known to be one used by the ira was given. army bomb experts were examining a suspect van when there was a huge explosion. the south african parliament has destroyed the foundation of apartheid by abolishing the population registration act, which for a0 years forcibly classified each citizen according to race. germany's parliament, the bundestag, has voted by a narrow majority to move the seat government from bonn to berlin. berliners celebrated into the night but the decision was greeted with shock in bonn. just a day old and the royal baby is tonight sleeping
in his cot at home. early this evening the new prince was taken by his mother and father to their apartments in kensington palace. the real focus today was valentina tereshkova, the world's first woman cosmonaut. what do you think of the russian woman in space? i think it's a wonderful achievement and i think we might be able to persuade the wife it would be a good idea if i could to get her to go up there for a little while. this is bbc news. the latest headlines: the death toll in the london tower block fire rises to 17, but is expected to increase further. dozens of people are still missing. families continue the desperate search for relatives. some of it is already leaking out, but president trump is due officially to announce his new policy on cuba when he visits miami, later on friday. it's expected trade and travel
restrictions will be tightened once again. they were relaxed by president obama. will grant reports from havana. by air and by sea, the americans have invaded cuba again. over the past two years, hundreds of thousands of us citizens have disembarked on the island after travel restrictions were eased. some have taken the first cruise ships to havana in decades. others on low cost airlines as direct flights were reinstated. all finally curious to finally see cuba for themselves. but tourism is a sign of friendly relationships, people expect things to get frosty again, including those running educational visits to study the island's economy. itjust seems, like, contrary to what people want to happen in both countries. there is a great deal of affinity between the two countries socially. so i think a lot of people
would see that as concerning. if during the obama administration, the mood was optimism, the only word for the trump time in office would be uncertainty. many cubans are concerned for their businesses and what new travel restrictions would mean for the country. there is a lot at stake. opponents for obama's policy of engagement say it does not benefit ordinary cubans. but nelson rodrigues disagrees. he runs a successfuly cafeteria, in old havanna, and thinks any new policy comes at a sensitive time. in this moment when cuba and the united states, they start to build a relation, let us sayjust a relation, maybe in the future, it could be a good relationship. this is the beginning. it is not fair he is changing the law. despite improved ties, the us embargo remains firmly in place.
only a few american companies have a presence on the island. though more will come, donald trump may ban us firms working with the commercial wing of the us military. how can someone say i want to work in cuba and invest in cuba and do business in cuba and avoid the public sector in cuba which is dominant? if you want to do business in cuba and you want to be serious about doing business in cuba, you cannot avoid the public sector. from the start, many in cuba thought president trump's desire to unpick obama's policy spelt problems for them. the question now is just how far will he go. once again, president putin has spent four hours fielding questions and a good many complaints during his annual televised phone—in. mostly it was domestic matters, but he also dealt with questions about russian
interference in last year's us election. our moscow correspondent, steve rosenberg, followed it all. well, president putin sat here for four hours answering questions. this is the 15th time he has done this marathon of a tv phone—in, designed to portray him as the father of the nation and mr fix-it. he was swamped with questions from russians, because in a country like russia, where all decisions are made by one man, vladimir putin, many russians believe he is the only one who can solve their problems. so, what did russians ask him? they asked why wages are so low in russia. one woman who had her house burned down and asked him if he could buy her a new house. residents in one town asked him to get rid of a giant rubbish tip on their doorstep. they also talked about us—russian relations, allowing vladimir putin tojoke he could give james comey political asylum. translation: when the chief of the special service records
a conversation with the commander—in—chief and then passes it through social media and his friend, what is the difference between the fbi director and mr snowden? isn't he the chief of the special service? he becomes a human rights defender. if something comes of this, we are also ready to provide political asylum for him in russia. let him know about that. and afterwards, i asked president putin about the recent anti—government street protests. on monday, protesters were shouting "russia without putin" and "one, two, three, putin, it's time to leave." when you hear that, do you find them threatening? translation: i look at what is happening in other countries. we all know how political processes work there. we know of several cases of political longevity. in principal, this is quite normal if it is through democratic procedures and within the law.
no one has so far broken the law in russia for staying in power too long. this is always a highly choreographed event. what was interesting about this year's phone in were the comments and questions on—screen that were critical of vladimir putin personally. one comment read like this: the whole of russia thinks you have sat too long on the throne. that tells me the kremlin has come to the conclusion it is counter—productive to say the whole of russia loves president putin. i think his performance today will have satisfied his supporters, but i do not think it will have won over his critics. finally, we return to our main story and accounts are emerging of exceptional bravery — more than 200 firefighters tackled the london tower block fire. they entered when it was still burning, as they tried to help those who were trapped. they're now involved in the recovery operation. sarah campbell reports on the firefighters and the impact this fire has had on them. hero!
this guy, look at that, hero! it is impossible to imagine how anyone would willingly run into this, but that is exactly what more than 200 firefighters did. the main thing with this building on the night was the speed the fire moved from the bottom up to the top and the thick black smoke that filled the air, that filled the building. they are real challenges for us. we have also got people, quite rightly, trying to get out of the building quickly as we were trying to get in. have you ever seen a fire like it? i have never seen a fire on this scale in my whole career, no. i have seen lots of fires in the london fire brigade but nothing on this scale. exhausted, having spent hours tackling a fire which has been described as unprecedented in its scale, and the work is far from over. now comes the task of making the building safe enough to allow a thorough search and recovery. you have had a chance to speak to some of those involved. how are they doing if not physically but mentally? i have spoken to quite a few people, they are ok.
the main thing is they are tired, but they are so keen to ensure that we complete the job. they were on duty again, a lot of them were on duty last night, some of them will be on duty tonight, and they want to come back. they want to come back and assist. thankfully only a handful of firefighters received minor injuries. the mental scars from what they saw and heard may take longer to heal. people have coping mechanisms in all sorts of ways and the most obvious one is the support of your colleagues who have been through similar experiences. but clearly the scale of this and the sort of horrors that people have seen means that they will need to be watched and they will need to be supported and that will need professional support. there is anger here with many local people feeling let down by the authorities, but there is thanks too for those willing to put their lives on the line to save others. heroes, heroes. they are heroes. they went in to try
and save people in that. i just... they are heroes. just the latest on that story once more. police have warned they may never be able to identify all those who died in the fire that engulfed the tower block early on wednesday morning. 17 bodies have been found. but dozens are still unaccounted for and it will take weeks to search the whole building. khan was heckled as he addressed crowds near the scene. he said people should not have to wait long for answers. the prime ministers was criticised for not meeting local people. people want to know why the fire spread so fast and why it started. much more any time on the bbc website. thank you for watching. hello there.
it looks predominantly dry for the uk for the next three or four days. temperatures will rise as well. but actually through the course of yesterday, we lost temporarily some of the heat. things freshened up behind our cold weather front. we still managed 25 degrees in the sunshine ahead of it. but the fresher atlantic air brought quite a pestering of showers, which continued into the evening but have been easing away overnight, as high pressure's built in. but we're not without weather fronts. there will be very weak weather fronts coming in across parts of northern ireland and western scotland. so it will be a more comfortable end to the night but we will have rather more cloud again to greet us across northern ireland, western scotland. cloud coming and going further south, i think, is really the name of the game, because it will be bright with some spells of sunshine, particularly in southern and western areas. for the west of scotland, and the islands, the western isles in particular, it looks to be fairly damp day, 14s or 15s here. east of the gambians, where the sun comes out, we could see 19 degrees, 20 across northern ireland with some
afternoon sunshine as well. —— grampians. we'll see varying amounts of cloud across northern, central and eastern parts of england. looks like we could see some very decent breaks in the cloud across south wales and the south—west. temperatures in comparison to recent days will be just a degree or two down, 22, 23 the high, but strong sunshine and very high levels of uv unfortunately. as we go through the coming night, we'll see a little bit more misty low cloud around. we'll see that anyway through the day across western scotland. there could be some around southern and western areas, low cloud around. we'll see that anyway through the day across western scotland. there could be some around southern and western areas, notjust the coast but inland. it's not going to be a particularly cold night either. as we move into saturday, we've got that high—pressure starting to build in again, pushing those weather fronts northwards. they're still going to hang on in the far north—west of scotland through saturday morning but it's essentially a fine day. more sunshine, i think, compared with the day ahead. although for northern ireland, still some cloud around and scotland, again,
the best will be the east for scotland and there we could see temperatures getting into the low 20s. a little warmer for northern ireland again, and certainly so across england and wales as we start to build up the warmth. sunday again we see the warmth building even further. we start to pick up more of a southerly in the south, so hopefully losing the misty low cloud but, again, the north—west of scotland is looking as if it could be persistently cloudy, with some rain at times. if you are finding the prospect of temperatures approaching 30 a little stifling, the sea is a little cooler at this time of year so those sea breezes will be refreshing. but the sun will be just as strong, even around the coast, it doesn't matter if it's 15 degrees or 25 degrees. and these are the uv levels through the weekend, as you can see, they are high for many parts of the country. the heat builds further as we head into the start of the new week, particularly in the south.
this is bbc news. the headlines: britain's prime minister theresa may has ordered a public inquiry into the fire that engulfed a london tower block, killing at least 17 people. that figure is expected to rise. fire chiefs don't expect to find more survivors, but it will take weeks to complete the search for bodies. local people have angrily demanded to know more about how the fire spread so fast. london's mayor has said they should not have to wait for answers. doctors treating otto warmbier, the american student released on tuesday from a north korean prison, say he has suffered extensive loss of brain tissue and is still in a coma. the jury in bill cosby‘s sex assault trial has told the judge they are deadlocked on day four of their deliberations. thejudge has instructed them to keep on trying for a verdict and they have been sent home for the night. bill cosby denies drugging and assaulting a woman at his home near philadelphia in 200a. now on bbc news, hardtalk.