27 towers fail fire safety checks in Britain, hundreds evacuated



Twenty seven high-rise residential towers in 15 council areas in England have failed fire cladding safety tests, the government said on Saturday.

Details were released by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) less than 24 hours after Camden Council in London decided on the immediate evacuation of hundreds of residents from four of its tower blocks on the Chalcots Estate in north London, Efe news reported.

Some 700 apartments were vacated in north London as buildings were declared unsafe due to the cladding they were covered in, which was also used on the Grenfell Tower block in west London that went up in flames on June 14, leaving at least 79 people dead.

By Saturday morning, 83 people had refused to leave their homes.

The 27 blocks found with Grenfell-type of cladding are in Camden, Manchester, Plymouth, Hounslow, Portsmouth and Brent. 

Over 100 people were evacuated late on Friday from buildings in Camden. They spent the night in a temporary accommodation as the local Council geared up to change the cladding on blocks, a process expected to last some three to four weeks.

Prime Minister Theresa May said "necessary" steps will be taken to find people accommodation, a BBC report said.

Camden Council's Labour leader, Georgia Gould, said the council had acted "as swiftly as we possibly can" to ensure people's safety. 

Gould said the fire service "told us they could not guarantee our residents' safety in those blocks".

"I know it's difficult, but Grenfell changes everything and I just don't believe we can take any risk with our residents' safety and I have to put them first.

"I offered to pay for fire stations to be stationed outside all of those blocks so we could have a couple of days to get the work done but the message there was absolutely nothing I could do to make those blocks safe that night."

She said that if people still choose not to leave their homes then it would "become a matter for the fire services".

The Prime Minister said: "We are making sure that the authority has the ability to do what is necessary to ensure people have somewhere to stay and that the work is done so that those tower blocks will become safe for them to return to in future."

Other high-rise buildings, such as some used by the NHS, were also being tested.

Many residents complained that they only found out about the evacuation through television and were not properly informed.  - IANS