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Highrise death toll climbs

London police said Monday that 79 people are now believed to have died in a highrise apartment building fire.

Police Commander Stuart Cundy gave the new figure during a statement outside Scotland Yard, saying it includes both people who were confirmed dead and others who are missing and presumed dead. 

The new total may change as the investigation continues, Cundy said. The search and recovery operation in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower continues, he said.

"It's hard to describe the devastation the fire has caused," Cundy said, fighting back tears as he spoke.

Britain held a moment of silence for the victims on Monday, with emergency service workers bowing their heads in respect.

The fire ripped through the highrise early Wednesday. Cundy told reporters the "awful reality" was that it might not be possible to identify all the victims.

He said that authorities were continuing to investigate whether any crimes had been committed in the inferno.



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