9/11 experts called in by Grenfell Tower investigators
US experts who investigated the World Trade Center’s 9/11 terrorist attack have been asked to help police identify victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey said that it could take until the end of the year to gather evidence from the 15 tonnes of debris on each of the building’s 24 floors.
Mackey said the scale and complexity of the Grenfell site, which is designated a crime scene, were comparable to the 2001 attack in New York.
“The people we are taking advice from are some of the people who worked on 9/11 and the fall of the towers. It is an extraordinary size of crime scene and extraordinarily complex,” he said, according to the Guardian.
Police are confident the final death toll from the fire would not vary substantially from its current estimate of 80 people, Mackey added, despite fears in the community that many more had died.
So far 39 bodies have been identified, but Mackey suggested the remains of many others might never be recovered.
“Without wanting to be too graphic - but I hope it helps explain - the fire in some parts of that building burned at over 1,000C [1832F] for a considerable period of time.
“So we are now working through floor by floor, and it is literally a case of sifting and working through the debris - sadly the remains - to try to desperately identify parts of people so we can reunite [the remains with families].
“There’s about 15 tonnes of material to work through [per floor] and we think we’ll be working until Christmas time in terms of working through that scene gathering all the evidence.”
Mackey said there were 200 British officers working on the case. He said while UK police had built up expertise in “disaster victim identification” they still needed help from the US.
“The only comparable advice we can find is around the challenge that was 9/11.”
Mackey added that it was unlikely that any individuals could be interviewed under caution until the autumn due to the complexity of the criminal investigation.
A total of 60 companies and organizations are already being investigated.
Mackey also warned that the public inquiry into the fire would have to wait for the criminal investigation to finish.