London tower block fire: Sense of limbo in Grenfell aftermath

Grenfell tower Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption At least six people are dead after the blaze ripped through Grenfell Tower

A vast column of smoke rises through the blue sky above west London.

All along the streets of north Kensington, eyes are fixed on the blazing shards of Grenfell Tower.

In the gaps between houses, members of the public mingle with journalists from across the world, all watching flames still visible in the upper storeys of the block.

Every so often debris lifts from the tower and floats off into the air.

Overhead a police helicopter thrums, while an acrid burning smell is carried by the breeze.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Local residents watch as Grenfell Tower is engulfed by fire
Image caption Elena Maravilla was evacuated from her flat during the night

Large groups of residents have congregated near the police cordon, many clutching the few belongings they managed to grab when they were evacuated.

In the shadow of the blackened building, some lie on the grass. They look like they're catching some lunchtime sunshine, except their possessions are scattered around them.

One man has an electric guitar casually slung over his shoulder. "I had to grab it," he says. Two girls wearing pyjamas and dressing gowns walk past dragging suitcases.

"It's unbelievable," says one woman who sits against a wall. "I saw people jumping out of windows. I heard their screams."

Another cries out, having learnt the fate of somebody who was in the tower. People rush towards her to give her comfort.

"It's a lot to take in. It's very emotional. I'm still shaking here now," one man says.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police say there may still be people in the building who are unaccounted for
Image copyright PA
Image caption The grass is scattered with belongings and debris

Elena Maravilla, who has lived in the area for 40 years, stands with her husband in the shade of a tree, hoping for information about friends in the tower.

She was evacuated from her flat and is in limbo, waiting for details about when they can return home.

"We saw the flames. It was scary, everyone was shouting. It was suddenly gone."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Food and drink supplies have arrived in their droves
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The donations have flooded in since the fire ripped through the tower block

The mood has an almost post-apocalyptic air. Though the estate is humming with emergency services, there are pockets of silence as people take in the night's events.

Some have headed to the evacuation centre at St Clement's Church where a constant line of people pushing trolleys full of water and food continue to arrive at the front door.

Image caption Student Felix Mosey grew up in the area

One of those generous donors is Felix Mosey, who went to the supermarket and bought water, fruit and sandwiches.

He is just one of many who have offered to help.

"It's my area and I wanted to play my part," he says.

"It's shocking what has happened, but the community has come together."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption People unload water and supplies from a van at a temporary relief centre

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