London highrise fire: Building materials may have broken rules, U.K. trade minister says

Britain's trade minister says the panelling used on the exterior of London's Grenfell Tower, where dozens were killed in a fire, appears to have violated building rules.

Government carrying out 'urgent inspection' of other tower blocks after fire kills at least 58

The 24-storey public housing building in west London was destroyed by a fire that broke out in one of the units shortly before 1 a.m. last Wednesday. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The British government on Sunday scrambled to contain the political fallout from the London highrise inferno that has claimed at least 58 lives as officials focused on building materials that may have spread the fire quickly.

The cause of Wednesday's blaze is still under investigation, but anger has mounted in the community amid reports that exterior panelling used in an extensive renovation completed last year may have been banned by U.K. rules.

Two government ministers — Treasury Chief Philip Hammond and Trade Minister Greg Hands — said Sunday the cladding used on the building's exterior seems to be banned by British regulations.

"My understanding is that the cladding that was reported wasn't in accordance with U.K. building regulations," Hands told Sky News. "We need to find out precisely what cladding was used and how it was attached."

He said the government is carrying out an "urgent inspection" of other tower blocks in Britain to assess safety. He said there are roughly 2,500 similar apartment towers throughout Britain.

When the truth comes out about this tragedy, we may find that there is blood on the hands of a number of organizations.- Labour Party MP David Lammy

Labour Party legislator David Lammy said the government and police should immediately seize all documents relating to the building's renovation to prevent the destruction of evidence that could show criminal wrongdoing.

"The prime minister needs to act immediately to ensure that all evidence is protected so that everyone culpable for what happened at Grenfell Tower is held to account and feels the full force of the law," Lammy said.

London's Metropolitan Police on Sunday released photos from inside the Grenfell Tower, experts believe the exterior cladding, which contained insulation, helped spread the flames quickly up the outside of the public housing tower early Wednesday morning. (Metropolitan Police/Associated Press)

He said all records, including emails, minutes of meetings, correspondence with contractors, safety assessments, specifications and reports — must be kept intact.

"When the truth comes out about this tragedy, we may find that there is blood on the hands of a number of organizations," Lammy said.

Long-term counselling for survivors

In addition, British health authorities will provide long-term bereavement counselling for those who lost loved ones in the tragedy. Counsellors are already working with 52 families.

There has been a public outcry at the government's initial failure to provide up-to-the minute information.

Prime Minister Theresa May, criticized in the first few days after the blaze for failing to meet with victims, says the public inquiry looking into the tragedy will report directly to her. She says she will receive daily reports from the stricken neighbourhood in North Kensington, where hundreds of people have been displaced.

Anger among residents has been mounting in recent days as information about the missing has been scant and efforts to find temporary housing have faltered.

London police said Sunday the number of people missing and presumed dead from the fire will increase from the current 58. They will provide an update on Monday. (Metropolitan Police/Associated Press)

British officials say they are helping the Syrian family of the first officially confirmed victim of the London tower blaze to come to Britain.

The Home Office said late Saturday night it will make arrangements for the family of Mohammad Alhajali to "travel to the U.K. in these terribly sad circumstances."

The 23-year-old Alhajali is the only victim of the Grenfell Tower fire to be officially named as the difficult process of identifying human remains continues.

His family said in a statement that the Syrian refugee "came to the U.K. because he had ambitions and aims for his life and for his family."

Syrian refugee Mohammad Al-Haj Ali, 23, was the first victim to be identified after firefighters searched the charred Grenfell Tower public housing highrise. (Facebook)

Police say more than 58 people are either confirmed or presumed dead and more information will be released on Monday.

"The number of people missing, but as yet unaccounted for, has risen from yesterday's figure of 58," London police 
Cmdr. Stuart Cundy said in a statement on Sunday.

Officials are using dental records, fingerprints and DNA samples to try and positively identify victims. They say they will also use visual elements like tattoos and scars, in the painstaking process.

Sixteen bodies have been taken to a mortuary for examination.