Simon Harvey writes,
We still don't know how many people lost their lives in the terrible fire that swept through the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in Kensington on 14 June. While most residents of the 120 apartments slept, a fire took hold which devoured the high-rise block with astonishing speed.
Estimates of the numbers of casualties have been slow to emerge. We first heard of seven, then twelve, then seventeen. At the time of writing, it is feared that the final toll could number one hundred or more.
The pain and anguish of those who have lost loved ones, the devastation of those now made homeless and the terror of those who fled the blaze in fear of their lives are intense. And while the emergency services have been praised for their response, fierce questions have been raised about the design, refurbishment and management of the building.
Grenfell Tower was occupied by some of Kensington's poorest residents. The tragedy has already come to stand as a symbol of a hugely divided society. In Kensington, and in many parts of London, conspicuous wealth and deprivation are metres apart. It is likely that, whatever the specific reasons for the spread of the blaze and the huge loss of life, the sharpest questions will not be technical.
The Grenfell Tower Fire will be seen as a turning point if we can realise that the increasing polarisation of power and powerlessness makes for a society that is more fearful and more unjust. The rush to help, largely led by volunteers, gives us confidence in our basic common humanity which our systems of power and politics need to reflect more.
Our prayers are for all those immediately affected by this appalling fire, for the bereaved and the broken, for the homeless and the frightened. And we pray for social landlords, political leaders, and the construction industry, for a vision for the welfare of those who vulnerable rather than an obsession with profit and cost.