Britain remembers victims of Grenfell fire, five years after deadly blaze

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LONDON (Reuters) - London marked the deaths of 72 people in a tower block fire at memorial services across the city on Tuesday, five years after a blaze that shook the nation and revealed widespread and fatal flaws in building regulations.

On June 14, 2017, Britain woke to the news of its deadliest fire in a residential building since World War Two, captured in images of a 23-storey inferno that have come to symbolise the tragedy of that night and a quest for justice for the local community and relatives of those who died.

A memorial service at Westminster Abbey in central London began the commemorations. Other events included a 72-second silence, a wreath-laying ceremony and a silent walk at the site of the fire.

"The bereaved, survivors and residents that I have spoken to are clear if nothing changes, those who lost their lives will have died in vain and they are not prepared to accept that," solicitor Imran Khan told the congregation at Westminster Abbey.

Grenfell Tower, a social housing block in a wealthy west London borough, was destroyed in the fire, started by an electrical fault in a refrigerator. A combustible cladding system retro-fitted to the tower's external walls was the main factor in the unstoppable spread of the flames.

The disaster prompted a wave of soul-searching over whether neglect of an ethnically mixed, largely low-income community had played a part in the tower's fate.

In the months after the blaze, hundreds of buildings were found to have similar cladding and a public inquiry has found numerous faults in the planning and administration of the Grenfell refurbishment.

Campaign groups are focused on prosecuting those found responsible for these failings, saying this would represent justice for the victims. Police are still conducting a criminal investigation and a public inquiry is ongoing.

(Reporting by William James and Jacqueline Clyne, editing by Ed Osmond)

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