LONDON: The identities of the 79 people who died in the massive fire that engulfed a 24-storey residential tower block in west London may never be known as they could be living in flats sublet without permission by the original tenants, according to a lawyer.
Victoria Vasey, director of North Kensington Law Centre, was quoted as saying by The Guardian that others who survived the blaze were reluctant to seek help from the authorities because they feared being detained over their unresolved immigration status.
A further problem for survivors, Vasey said, was that those sent by the Kensington and Chelsea authority to hotels for emergency accommodation last week were all informed they would have to leave by yesterday, the report said.
"It affected scores of people, but they have now been reassured and allowed to stay where they are," she said.
The problem of identifying victims, Vasey added, was being complicated by the fact that "a lot of people were irregular in their tenancies and some were subletting. Some of them were illegal subtenancies," it said.
Those who died may not be those recorded as the official tenants of a flat.
Vasey welcomed the large number of lawyers who had volunteered to help provide free legal advice.
Daily legal clinics have been set up to advise displaced tenants on housing problems.
"Many people were concerned about their immigration status," Vasey said.
"Some were in the middle of applications [to be naturalised] and have lost all their papers. We are offering support to them. Some of the people feel they can't seek help because they are terrified they will be carted off to immigration detention. It's a big problem," she said.
While survivors may, at a later stage, consider bringing compensation claims or seek other ways to obtain justice, Vasey said, families are at the moment focused on more immediate needs.
Vasey wrote to the Home Office on Friday calling on officials to provide emergency help for those who have lost all their documents.
The Scotland Yard had said at least 79 people have been presumed dead in the Grenfell Tower blaze.