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London fire: Prime minister orders full public inquiry

Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered a full public inquiry into the fire that engulfed a west London block of flats, killing at least 17 people.

That figure is expected to rise, as fire chiefs have said they do not expect to find any more survivors in the burnt-out Grenfell Tower, in north Kensington.

People have been desperately seeking news of missing family and friends.
The Queen earlier said her "thoughts and prayers" are with families.
More than 30 people remain in hospital - 17 of whom are in a critical condition.
Prime Minister Theresa May made a brief private visit to the scene on Thursday, as questions were being asked about the speed at which the fire spread.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, also visited the site, telling community leaders "the truth has to come out".
Firefighters were called to the 24-storey residential tower in the early hours of Wednesday, at a time when hundreds of people were inside, most of them sleeping.

Many were woken by neighbours, or shouts from below, and fled the building. Fire crews rescued 65 adults and children, but some stayed in their homes, trapped by smoke and flames.
On Thursday morning, London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said her crews had identified a "number of people, but we know there will be more".

The size of the building means it could take weeks, she added.
Asked how many were still missing, Met Police Commander Stuart Cundy said it would be "wrong and incredibly distressing" to give a number.

"I know one person was reported 46 times to the casualty bureau," he said.
A brief search of all floors in the tower had been carried out, but the severity of the fire and amount of debris meant a thorough search would be "difficult and painstaking", Commander Cotton said.
Sniffer dogs will now be sent in to search for evidence and identification of people still inside, she said.

Temporary structures will be built inside the block in order to shore it up before more thorough work can begin.
The cause of the fire, which took more than 24 hours to bring under control, remains unknown.
Throughout the morning, only wisps of smoke were seen coming from the charred building, but flames were later seen flaring up again on a lower floor.

Dozens of people left homeless spent the night in makeshift rescue centres, as well-wishers signed a wall of condolence near the site.

London-born singer Adele and her husband visited the scene on Wednesday evening, and was seen comforting people. Singer Rita Ora also pitched in, helping to sort donations outside the tower.

Photographs and messages in English and Arabic have been left for loved ones.
Alongside them are words of anger and calls for justice, with people saying their safety concerns were not listened to.
The local authority - Kensington and Chelsea council - said 44 households had been placed in emergency accommodation so far.

Through the night, people donated food, clothes and blankets for those left without homes.
By early morning some volunteers said they were overwhelmed with donations and were turning people and vans away.

One volunteer, Bhupinder Singh, said: "It is times like this that the best of our community comes out. This is where you find out how good it is to be a Londoner."

Questions have been raised about why the fire appeared to spread so quickly and engulf the entire building.
BBC Newsnight's Chris Cook says the type of cladding on the outside of Grenfell Tower, installed in 2015 during a refurbishment, had a polyethylene - or plastic - core, instead of a more fireproof alternative with a mineral core.
Similar cladding was used in high-rise buildings hit by fires in France, the UAE and Australia, he said.

The government has said checks were now planned on tower blocks that have gone through a similar upgrade.
Construction firm Rydon, which carried out the refurbishment, initially said in a statement that the work met "all fire regulations" - the wording was omitted in a later statement.

Fire risk assessment in tower blocks was "less rigorous" since responsibility for it shifted from the fire brigade to the owner, Sian Berry, housing committee chairwoman of the London Assembly, said.
Concerns have also been raised about fire alarms not going off and the lack of sprinklers.

It is still possible to build tall buildings without sprinklers, said Russ Timpson of the Tall Buildings Fire Safety Network, but he expected regulations might change soon.

Overseas colleagues are "staggered" when they hear tall buildings are built in the UK with a single staircase, he added.
Roy Wilsher, chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, said that if the fire spread up the outside of the tower, sprinklers might not have made a difference.
Design and regulations for such tower blocks mean fire should be contained in a single flat, he said. "Clearly something's gone wrong in this case."

Meanwhile, appeals are being made on social media for news of friends and family who are still unaccounted for.
Among them are 12-year-old Jessica Urbano Ramirez and 66-year-old grandfather Tony Disson, from the 22nd floor.
Security guard Mo Tuccu, who was visiting friends in the tower to break the Ramadan fast, is also missing.
One family from the 17th floor has five people missing. Husna Begum and four other family members were last heard from two hours after the fire started.

Labour MP David Lammy is appealing for information about his friend, Khadija Saye, and her mother, Mary Mendy.
An emergency number - 0800 0961 233 - has been set up for anyone concerned about friends or family.
Read more about the missing here.

Stories continue to emerge from survivors and eyewitnesses.
One man, who lives in the neighbourhood, said he saw people banging at the window and children screaming. He said he knew one family with five children under the age of 10 who were all missing.
"There are so many children that are unaccounted for. My daughter's best friend has gone," he told BBC's Victoria Derbyshire.

Michael Paramasivan, who lived on the seventh floor with his girlfriend and young daughter, was among many who defied official advice to stay put, and ran with their families down dark, smoke-filled corridors to get out of the building.

"If we had stayed in that flat, we would've perished," he said.
People in the street below described watching as a baby was thrown from a window, people jumped and climbed down the side of the burning tower using ropes made from bed sheets.
Jody Martin said: "I was yelling at everyone to get down and they were saying 'We can't leave our apartments, the smoke is too bad on the corridors'."


London fire: Death toll rises to 17

At least 17 people died in a massive fire that engulfed a west London block of flats, police said, as they warned that figure could rise further.

Somalia: Suicide car bomber targets Mogadishu restaurant

A combined suicide bomb and gun attack at a hotel and restaurant in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, has killed at least 18 people.
The attack started on Wednesday evening, as Muslims were breaking their daily fast during Ramadan.

A chef at the Pizza House restaurant, a modern venue popular with young Somalis, was among the victims.

Militants from the al-Shabab group held about 20 hostages during a shoot-out with police, which has now ended.

The al-Qaeda affiliated group admitted carrying out the attack early on Thursday.

The attack began at around 20:00 local time (17:00 GMT), when a car rigged with explosives hit the Posh Hotel next to the restaurant - the only venue in Mogadishu with a disco, Reuters news agency reports.

Gunmen then entered the Pizza House restaurant next door, seizing hostages.

Residents reported gunshots throughout the night, but the situation is now calm, a BBC reporter with the Somali service said.

Mohammud Ali said police had stormed the building "in the early hours" and security forces were clearing the hotel.
There were also unconfirmed reports the attackers wore police uniforms, he said.

Troops from the African Union forced al-Shabab out of Mogadishu in 2011, but much of the country is still under control of the militants.

The militant group has launched a series of deadly attacks on Mogadishu and other government-held regions in recent months.

Most of the militant group's violent acts are "hit and run" style attacks.

This is the first major attack since the holy month of Ramadan began three weeks ago - a time when al-Shabab usually increases the frequency of its attacks.

Somalia has been wracked by conflict since the long-serving ruler Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.


Trump-Russia inquiry: President 'probed for obstruction of justice'

President Donald Trump is being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller for possible obstruction of justice, US media reports say.
They say senior intelligence officials will be interviewed about whether Mr Trump tried to end an inquiry into his sacked national security adviser. 

Mr Trump's legal team said the latest leak to the media was "outrageous".
Mr Mueller is overseeing an FBI inquiry into Russia's alleged meddling the 2016 US election and any Trump links to it.

President Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia, describing the ongoing inquiry as a "witch hunt".
The latest development was first carried in the Washington Post. Later the New York Times and Wall St Journal reported the story, citing their own sources.

The Washington Post said the decision by Mr Mueller to investigate President Trump's own conduct is a major turning point in the investigation, which until recently focused on the Russian angle.
Why is the president being investigated?

The latest media reports say the obstruction of justice investigation began just days after President Trump fired former FBI director James Comey on 9 May.

Mr Comey, who had been leading one of several Russia inquiries, testified to Congress last week that Mr Trump had pressured him to drop the inquiry into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Mr Flynn was sacked in February for failing to reveal the extent of his contacts with Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to Washington.

Mr Comey testified under oath that Mr Trump had told him during a private meeting: "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

The White House has said the president "has never asked Mr Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn".

Mr Comey said he was "sure" Mr Mueller was looking at whether Mr Trump had obstructed justice.
But Mr Comey also testified that to his knowledge the president had not tried to stop the Russia investigation.
Who is going to be interviewed?

The three names being mentioned in US media are Daniel Coats, the director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency, and Richard Ledgett, until recently Mr Rogers' deputy.

Mr Coats and Admiral Rogers last week declined to answer questions before Congress.

But the Washington Post says they have agreed to be interviewed by investigators and the questioning could happen as early as this week.

The three were not involved in the Trump campaign but may be asked whether Mr Trump sought their help to end the Flynn inquiry.

However, the Times points out that the latest questioning does not mean a criminal case is being built against the president, simply that information is being gathered by the FBI. It will be passed to prosecutors who will then have to decide.

Has the president responded?

Not personally. Yet.
But his legal team responded angrily.
Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Mr Trump's lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, said: "The FBI leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal."

Mr Trump has repeatedly railed against leaks from the FBI, saying this is the important story, not alleged collusion with Russia, which he has dismissed as "fake news".

The New York Times reports that Mr Trump has considered firing Mr Mueller in recent days but has been talked out of it by aides.

Uncharted terrain: Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter
James Comey hinted at it. Washington insiders suspected it. Now US media are reporting it (through anonymous sources, of course).

Donald Trump himself is under direct investigation for obstruction of justice by the special counsel's office.
Take all those previous assertions by the president that he's not the target of law enforcement efforts, and throw them out the window.

Mr Trump will surely insist that the inquiry into whether his campaign had ties to Russia is still a hoax perpetrated by Democrats and a hostile media, and that the obstruction allegations are built on that empty foundation.

That may not matter. "It's not the crime; it's the cover-up," may be a hackneyed political saying, but that doesn't mean it lacks a kernel of truth.

There's still an open question as to what, exactly, could happen if Mr Mueller does find the president violated the law in acting to disrupt an ongoing investigation.

Could charges be filed? Would it fall on the House of Representatives to act?
It's all uncharted legal terrain.

If the latest media reports are correct, however, Mr Mueller may be charting a course for the darkness.