London fire: Number of dead and missing rises to 79, police say

London fire: Number of dead and missing rises to 79, police say

London fire: Number of dead and missing rises to 79, police say

Updated 19 June 2017, 20:25 AEST

London police say the number of people dead or missing in the high-rise apartment building fire is now 79, as the search and recovery operation proves "incredibly distressing" for families.

London police say that the number of dead or missing in the high-rise apartment building fire is now 79.

Police Commander Stuart Cundy gave the new figure during a statement outside Scotland Yard on Monday. The previous figure given was 58.

Commander Cundy said the new number may change as the investigation into the incident continues.

He said the search and recovery operation in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower was ongoing, and it had been incredibly distressing for families.

"It's hard to describe the devastation the fire has caused," he said.

Commander Cundy added authorities were investigating whether any crimes had been committed as part of the incident.

Public anger is mounting as residents and neighbours demand answers for how the blaze, which started early on Wednesday (local time), spread so quickly and trapped so many of the tower's 600 residents.

Two British officials said on Sunday (local time) that new exterior cladding used in a renovation of Grenfell Tower may have been banned under UK building regulations.

AP