A growing number of volunteers and residents who survived the Grenfell Tower fire in West London last week believe authorities and the media are deliberately downplaying the true scale of fatalities and key details of the deadly inferno.
On Monday, police confirmed 79 people are known to have died in the fire.
Of these, just five have been formally identified, while the other 74 are missing, presumed dead.
Authorities have always said the figure could rise much higher, as the tower block was able to house up to 600 people.
Early on in the wake of the tragedy, the media faced a backlash among public figures like rapper Akala and pop star Lily Allen over the low reported death toll, which for several days stood at just 17 despite the block being densely populated.
Allen, who is from the area, told Channel 4 News at the time: “I have never in my entire life seen an event like this where the death count has been downplayed by the mainstream media. 17?
“I’m sorry but I am hearing the figure is much closer to 150 and that many of those people are children.”
She said police officers and firefighters on the ground had told her of the triple figure toll.
The media came under fire again when Allen’s scheduled interview with BBC Newsnight was pulled at the last minute.
Critics said it was because she had questioned the low official number of fatalities.
The BBC later argued that Allen had been dropped because the head of the local council, Nick Paget-Brown, had agreed to appear and his position made him a priority guest.
Sorry to disappoint conspiracy theorists – we dropped @lilyallen because we secured interview with leader of Ken + Chelsea council late yday
— Ian Katz (@iankatz1000) June 16, 2017
One of the newer left-wing blogs, Skwawkbox, even suggested the government had issued a press censorship order known as a ‘D’ or ‘DA’ Notice on the casualty figures in order to offset the risk of public disorder.
These allegations were swiftly dismissed by mainstream press outlets and officials.
Estimates abound on social media and among members of the public interviewed in the area of Grenfell Tower, with some saying the toll will be around 150 and others putting it as high as 600.
On Monday afternoon, it emerged that one charred room in the tower block was found to contain the bodies of 42 people.
The report is likely to further fuel concerns that the extent of the horror is yet to be exposed.
Speaking to the Mirror, a local man said a firefighter friend had told him of the gruesome find.
“He can’t come out because he’ll probably get the sack or something. But he said they found 42 bodies in one room, bruv, in one room. From children to old people,” the resident said.
Responding to the alleged find, the Metropolitan Police told the paper it could not comment on the location or manner of deaths.