Tower cladding ‘may have been banned’


Two British ministers say the cladding used in a renovation of Grenfell Tower may have been banned under the United Kingdom’s building regulations.
Experts believe the exterior cladding, which contained insulation, helped spread the flames quickly along the outside of the tower in the Wednesday morning blaze that has killed at least 58 people.
The government is carrying out an “urgent inspection” of roughly 2500 similar tower blocks across the country to assess their safety.
Trade Minister Greg Hands and Treasury chief Philip Hammond said in separate television appearances that the cladding used on Grenfell seems to be prohibited by British regulations.
Hands told Sky News: “My understanding is that the cladding that was reported was not in accordance with UK building regulations. We need to find out precisely what cladding was used and how it was attached.”
Experts say the cladding and the insulation it contained seems to have spread the flames quickly along the exterior of the building, overwhelming safety devices like fire doors.
Hands cautioned that investigators still do not know exactly what cladding was used when the building renovation was completed last year.
One opposition lawmaker urged the Conservative government and police to immediately seize all documents related to the tower renovation.
David Lammy said he is worried that documents will be quietly deleted and disposed of as police begin a search for evidence.
“The prime minister needs to act immediately to ensure that all evidence is protected so that everyone culpable for what happened at Grenfell Tower is held to account and feels the full force of the law,” Lammy said.
He said tower residents who survived fear a cover-up will keep the truth from coming out. He says trust in the authorities is “falling through the floor”.
Police have said criminal prosecutors will be pursued if there is evidence of wrongdoing. AP

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