London police said Saturday that the death toll from the inferno at the Grenfell Tower in west London had risen to 58.
The announcement, by Cmdr. Stuart Cundy, who said the toll was still expected to rise, came as Queen Elizabeth said the country was trapped in a feeling of desolation.
“It is difficult to escape a very somber national mood,” the queen said in a statement to mark her official 91st birthday. “In recent months, the country has witnessed a succession of terrible tragedies.”
The fire at the 24-story public housing project broke out early Wednesday, and it has mushroomed into a political crisis testing the fragile government of Prime Minister Theresa May. Her political future — already in doubt after her Conservative Party lost its governing majority in snap elections — has been further questioned because of her response to the fire.
The prime minister’s reaction, characterized as stilted and lacking empathy, and her failure to meet with fire victims during an initial visit to the site, only served to amplify complaints over her leadership.
When May finally went out to meet with them at St. Clement’s Church on Friday — one of several sites near the tower that offered clothes, food and toiletries to victims and their loved ones — she was heckled with shouts of “Coward!” She also visited survivors in a hospital.
On Saturday, a planned protest was canceled, and May met with victims of the fire at her 10 Downing Street offices for two hours.