Newspaper headlines: How could west London fire happen?

By BBC News

image copyrightPA
image captionWork to install new cladding was completed in 2015

Today's newspaper front pages are understandably dominated by the news that at least 12 people have died in a fire at the Grenfell Tower in north Kensington, London.

The Daily Mail has led with a picture of the residential block covered in bright orange flames, with the headline, "How the hell could it happen?" The paper published what it calls a special edition with 21 pages dedicated to coverage of the disaster.

"Tragic. Horrific. Avoidable" are the three words chosen by the "i" newspaper. "Death Trap" is the headline used by The Daily Mirror and The Daily Star. "They were told it was safe" says The Sun which fills 17 pages with the story.

'Residents jumped'

For The Daily Telegraph, it was a disaster waiting to happen. It says ministers were warned about the fire risk posed by the type of cladding used to make the building more energy efficient as far back as 1999. The Daily Mail talks of a string of blunders - with housing chiefs, council bosses and government ministers being accused of having "blood on their hands". It claims the panels made the tower "light up like a match" while raining down toxic debris on rescuers.

One expert told The Guardian: "We are still wrapping high rise buildings in highly flammable materials and leaving them without sprinkler systems, then being surprised when they burn down". The Guardian also focuses on a claim that gas pipes had not been boxed in with "fire rated" protection.

Many of the papers give harrowing accounts from victims and witnesses. The Times tells of a 12-year-old girl separated from her mother during the evacuation; a mother-of-three who told a friend on the phone that they were not going to make it; and a baby who was thrown to safety from the ninth floor - while her mother was unable to jump herself.

The Daily Mail said that in scenes reminiscent of 9/11, trapped residents leapt to their deaths and families perished as their neighbours watched in horror. It says a father-of-four was seen shouting from the window of his tenth floor flat: "Tell my boys I love them."

The Telegraph described how residents knotted sheets together to make ropes, while others tried to manufacture makeshift parachutes from bin bags and bedding and leapt out of windows.

Brexit 'foot-dragging'

Among other stories in today's papers, The Financial Times reported that Philip Hammond is poised to challenge Theresa May over her priorities for Brexit. It said that the Chancellor will use his highly anticipated Mansion House speech to reassert his authority on the process.

The Telegraph quotes a Tory source saying that Mr Hammond might be deliberately "foot-dragging" over details of a possible pact with the DUP to give him more time to argue for a softer Brexit. The Times also reports that the Treasury is said to be "dragging its feet" over a deal.

Silver surfers are on the rise according to The Mail with record numbers of older Britons buying smartphones. Half of the over-65s are believed to now be on social media. But they are far more likely to use Facebook as "lurkers", which means browsing the site without actually posting anything.