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Survivors voice outrage at delay in London blaze probe

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This handout image received by local resident Natalie Oxford early on June 14, 2017 shows flames and smoke coming from a 27-storey block of flats after a fire broke out in west London.<br />The fire brigade said 40 fire engines and 200 firefighters had been called to the blaze in Grenfell Tower, which has 120 flats. / AFP PHOTO / Natalie Oxford / Natalie OXFORD / 

Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster in which 71 people and an unborn child lost their lives voiced outrage on Thursday after police said the criminal investigation would be delayed for at least two years.

London’s Metropolitan Police said Wednesday it would wait before filing any possible criminal charges until the completion of an ongoing public inquiry into the blaze, which enveloped the block on June 14, 2017.

Many former residents at the site in the west of the British capital blamed the fire’s rapid spread on cladding installed as part of a refurbishment.

The police said it was unlikely to submit a file to prosecutors before “the latter part of 2021”.

“I know this is longer than some might have anticipated,” Matt Bonner, the officer in charge of the investigation, said in a statement.

Natasha Elcock, a tower resident who heads the Grenfell United survivors’ group, said: “We are living in a limbo with no individuals or organisations being held accountable and it is so painful for all us who lost loved ones and our homes that night.

“We wait month after month, our lives on hold, for some kind of justice and progress. It is extremely frustrating and disheartening to now be told this will be our way of life for years to come,” she said.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan told BBC radio: “It’s not surprising that the police want to see where the evidence takes them, but it will be distressing for many victims, many survivors”.


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