Page last updated at 22:04 GMT, Friday, 3 July 2009 23:04 UK

Six killed in tower block blaze

The building damaged by the fire

Three children and three adults have died after a fire swept through a tower block in south-east London.

About 30 people were rescued from the blaze at the 12-storey Lakanal House on the Sceaux Gardens Estate in Camberwell.

A three-week-old baby, a six-year-old, a seven-year-old and a woman in her 30s were among those who died.

At least 20 people have been taken to hospital, with 18 having now been released.

One woman later died at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital, and two other victims died at King's College Hospital.

Fire crews have been searching the flats and everyone is believed to have been removed.

Tom Chidley, deputy assistant commissioner of the London Fire Brigade (LFB), told BBC News: "The initial crews were met by a serious fire which quickly developed. They called on extra resources.

"We ended up having 100 firefighters at the scene with some of our specialist fire rescue units attending as well."

Eighteen fire engines were used to tackle the blaze, which began at about 1620 BST.

An LFB spokesman said that the "serious" fire was believed to have started in a stairwell and spread to the communal areas between floors four and 11.

"A number of rescues have been carried out in extremely difficult circumstances," he said.

Explosion heard

Carol Hunter, who lives in a building that backs onto Lakanal House, said: "At first it was just smoke and no-one seemed to be doing anything.

"Then five minutes later I heard a huge bang and flames were everywhere.

"I went around to try and see if I could help and I found a distraught lady who had her daughter and five kids with the neighbour and a three-year-old stuck in the bathroom on the 11th floor.

"She was on the phone to them. She couldn't get to the flat so we told the firefighters. It took them an hour but they were rescued.

Scene of the fire
We saw body bags coming out. I felt sick
Eyewitness Carol Hunter

"It was horrible. We saw lots of children banging on the windows to get out and families screaming.

"There was even bed sheets tied together hanging out of windows with people threatening to jump out if they weren't going to come and try and help. We saw body bags coming out. I felt sick."

Rob Atthill, who saw the blaze break out from a nearby yard where he was working, said: "You could see people's faces at the windows and there were people hanging towels tied together and stuff, trying, I think to get attention.

"People I was with, they climbed on the roof to see what was happening, and they said they could see faces of people at the windows, and people trying to smash windows. It didn't look very good".

Local hospitals receiving the victims have said 18 people have been released after suffering minor injuries.

A total of 11 people were taken to King's College Hospital, including the two who died.

The other nine, six adults and three children, suffered minor injuries and are to be taken to an emergency centre set up by Southwark council.

Another seven people were treated at the Lewisham Hospital, and one patient is described as being in a stable condition at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital.

About 50 people have been taken to nearby Welton Hall.

Southwark Council leader Nick Stanton said: "This is a terrible thing to have happened and my thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family of the children who have died and those people affected by this fire."

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Eyewitness footage of Camberwell fire


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