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Support floods in for Grenfell victims

By ANGUS McNEICE | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-06-16 18:43

Smoke and dust was still rising from London's Grenfell Tower and flakes of ash were settling on the surrounding streets on Thursday with the stench of the fire all around but that did not hold back hundreds of volunteers managing tons of donated food, clothes, and other essentials.

Support floods in for Grenfell victims

Missing persons posters are displayed in a street near the scene of the fire that destroyed the Grenfell Tower block, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 16, 2017.  [Photo/Agencies]

A few hundred meters from the blackened building, people filed down pathways toward churches and community centers. Some wore surgical masks to block out the fumes, and most carried boxes and bin bags full of clothing, toiletries, and other supplies intended for the estimated 600 people that the fire had left without a home.

Charlie Cumberbatch, 72, a retiree who lives in the nearby Edward Woods Estate, said his wife's best friend, a wife and mother-of-three, was still missing.

"The community has been great, people have rallied," he said. "But it has been terrible. I've been staying busy helping to load and unload vans."

As the investigation begins into how the fire, which has so far claimed 17 lives, started and how it could consume the 24-floor structure so quickly, thousands of Londoners have mobilized to help those affected.

Crowdfunding pages have raised millions of pounds to help residents who have been left homeless. And people have traveled from all over the city to drop off donated items at places of refuge in the area.

Flyers with photos of missing people are pinned to lamp posts and message boards throughout the neighborhood.

Charlie Gorham, who was volunteering to work the door at St Clement's church, said the institution had stopped taking donations and was turning away volunteers.

"But it's important that we don't lose momentum," he said. "Next week, we will need more help when we know where people are going."

Jenny Li and members of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, which is based in Taiwan, were there to offer support.

"We've been to the town hall to see what help we can provide. We've been asked to head to Westway Sports Center where they need volunteers to help with donations. We are here to help in the short-term, mid-term, and long-term," Li said.

On Thursday, the lot between Westway Sports Center and Latymer Community Church was heaving with hundreds of bags, boxes, and volunteers sorting and labeling goods as they continued to flood in.

Muktadir Ahmed, 27, spent the day helping to deliver donations to local centers. Ahmed and others began piling up supplies at the roadside when centers could no longer accept them.

He said: "People didn't just bring their own things to give-we went down to the pound store in the morning and it was full of people from the community buying things to donate. The mosque and the churches around here are packed, so we have started putting these bags on the road. It's beautiful how people in the community have been supporting the cause."


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