Police: London fire death toll rises to 79

Members of the emergency services join people in a minute's silence for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire near the site of the blaze in North Kensington, London, on Monday. (Reuters photo)

LONDON - The death toll in the fire that ravaged a London tower block last week has risen to 79, police said on Monday, and the government said it was working to get a public inquiry into the disaster up and running promptly.

Fire broke out in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower, a social housing block in west London, in the early hours of June 14 and spread with terrifying speed, tearing through the building with residents trapped inside.

While emergency services have been widely praised for their handling of the disaster, the government has been criticised for a slow and inadequate response, with Prime Minister Theresa May facing public anger for failing to meet residents during her first visit to the site.

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