50 people taken to hospitals from tower fire; number of fatalities confirmed

London (CNN) — A massive fire that tore through a 24-story apartment building in west London has claimed a number of lives, fire officials confirmed, as rescuers frantically worked to reach people believed still trapped.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a “major incident” after the blaze engulfed the Grenfell Tower in North Kensington just before 1 a.m local time Wednesday. Around 200 firefighters, 40 fire trucks and 20 ambulance crews were at the scene.

A website run by the “Grenfell Action Group” said residents of the tower had expressed concerns over the safety of the building, specifically pointing to fire risks. Fire chiefs said it was too early to speculate on the cause of the blaze.

Latest developments

  • The fire is under control, but the the building is still smoldering.
  • At least 50 people have been taken to five London hospitals.
  • There are fears that the building, with more than 100 apartments, might collapse.
  • A hazardous area response team were also dispatched.

It is unclear how many people are still in the building, but witnesses who escaped reported terrifying accounts of people trapped in the tower as they fled. Some people were reported to have jumped from the building while witness described seeing people, including children, banging on windows, screaming and crying for help.

London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton there had been “a number of fatalities” but she could not confirm how many.

“In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never seen anything of this scale,” she said.

There were fears that the building, which houses more than 100 apartments, might collapse. It was not yet possible to confirm the cause of the fire, which spread throughout the building from lower floors, Cotton said.

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