Reports of people in the burning building screaming for their lives as flames rage through a 27-storey tower block.
Forty fire engines with 200 officers were called shortly before 1am (8am Malaysian time) as flames engulfed the block from the second floor upwards of the 27-storey building “within seconds”.
Hundreds of fire officers were joined by police and paramedics to wake and evacuate residents as they set up an exclusion zone around the base of the tower with burning debris crashed down the side.
Early reports from Scotland Yard said two known casualties had been treated for smoke inhalation but witnesses reported “horrible scenes” of other people trapped on the upper storeys.
There were unconfirmed reports on social media of residents using bedsheets as makeshift ropes while others were reportedly seen jumping for their lives.
Members of the public were warned to avoid the area as surrounding roads were closed, with flames and smoke visible for several miles around.
A resident posted a message on Facebook saying the fire had begun on her floor.
Warning family members of residents to check their relatives were safe, she added: “A fire on my floor has led to this. I’m out and I’m safe but not sure yet if my flat will be.”
ABC News reported that Andy Manfrego, who lives yards away, was desperately searching for a relative trapped inside at 3am.
He said: “It went up in seconds. It’s been burning for nearly two hours and you can see people at the top still in there.
“Bits of the building keep dropping off it’s awful. Everyone’s waiting at the cordon trying to call their family members who could still be in there.
“My uncle was in there but managed to nip out. He called me saying he is fine. There are still people in there you can see them through the windows.
“The police aren’t telling us anything about it.”
Residents had warned that the building – which has around 120 flats reportedly served by a single main entrance – was a fire hazard last year when rubbish piled up in a communal walkway.
The Grenfell Action Group raised their concerns in a blog post last January, saying: “The potential for a fire to break out in the communal area on the walkway does not bear thinking about as residents would be trapped in the building with no way out.”
It was given a £10million refurbishment a year ago, with the installation of insulated exterior cladding, double-glazed windows and a communal heating system.