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May apologises for response to London tower block fire

[LONDON] British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday apologised for the official response to a devastating London tower block fire believed to have killed 79 people, saying it was "not good enough".

"That was a failure of the state, local and national, to help people when they needed it most. As prime minister I apologise for that failure," she told parliament.

Ms May came under severe criticism for failing to meet survivors of the blaze in the local authority-owned Grenfell Tower in west London on her first visit to the scene.

Survivors also complained about a lack of co-ordination in the official response.

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"The support on the ground for families in the initial hours was not good enough," Ms May said.

The massive fire in the 24-storey tower in a working-class enclave of Kensington and Chelsea, Britain's richest borough, broke out last Wednesday and was only extinguished three days later.

The government on Wednesday announced that 68 flats had been bought for survivors in an upmarket housing development on plush Kensington High Street.

The government has promised to rehouse all the survivors either in their local borough or in neighbouring ones.

"The residents of Grenfell Tower have been through some of the most harrowing and traumatic experiences imaginable and it is our duty to support them," Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said.

"Our priority is to get everyone who has lost their home permanently rehoused locally as soon as possible, so that they can begin to rebuild their lives," he said.