Flames and smoke billow out of Grenfell Tower in London.
Flames and smoke billow out of Grenfell Tower in London. © Toby Melville/Reuters

Residents of the Grenfell Tower public housing development bitterly said, the specific and predictable result of years of warnings that had gone unheeded, an emblem of a city that is neglecting its most vulnerable residents even as it increasingly caters to the whims of the ultra-rich.

In one of the wealthiest neighborhoods of London — a short amble from the homes of celebrities and royals — people living in one of the city’s increasingly in-demand havens of affordable housing jumped from 20 floors up after being trapped by the advancing flames. 

Children banged on closed windows as they were enveloped by the thick black smoke. A woman dropped her baby, desperately hoping someone would catch the infant in the street below.

By early evening, police said that 12 people had died and more than 70 people had been injured. But with many people still unaccounted for, authorities said the toll was almost certain to rise. ... At least 40 fire engines responded to the scene, where 200 firefighters waged a futile battle to contain the blaze. As fiery debris rained from above, they raced into the building wearing breathing tanks and searched floor by floor for survivors even amid concerns that the structure could collapse.