London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the devastating Grenfell Tower block fire was caused by "years of neglect", describing the tragedy as "a national disaster that requires a national response". British media have reported that contractors installed a cheaper, less flame-resistant type of exterior paneling on the 24-story tower in a renovation that was completed just a year ago.
The announcement, by Commander Stuart Cundy, who said the toll was still expected to rise, came as Queen Elizabeth II said the country was filled with sadness.
Cundy said 16 bodies had so far been recovered from the tower and taken to a mortuary.
Meanwhile, UK Finance Minister Philip Hammond said on Sunday that the outer wall covering on the Grenfell Tower, known as cladding, is banned in the UK.
Police have been struggling to come up with a list of who was in the building when the fire started, making it hard to determine how many died. He asked anyone who was in the tower and survived to contact police immediately.
The government must work "urgently" to compile a list of properties similar to the 24-story West London apartment block that burned down Wednesday night, and publish the information with the "maximum amount of transparency", Khan wrote in an opinion piece for the Observer. Cundy said emergency workers have now reached the top of the building.
With anger mounting over the government's handling of the blaze, May met residents from the Grenfell Tower and vowed to personally oversee the recovery as protesters gathered to demonstrate in the streets around her residence for a second day. The group left after a meeting that lasted more than two hours but did not speak to reporters gathered outside.
She visited the site of the fire on Latimer Road on Thursday, speaking to first responders.
May to meet NI parties amid concerns over deal with DUP
"Talks with the DUP have been progressing well, and there is broad agreement on the principles of the Queen's speech", the source said, referring to the government's legislative program.
He admitted the local community, a working-class enclave in one of Britain's wealthiest districts, was feeling "frustrated and angry" at the official response to the disaster.
The local authority and the government have been criticised for their response to the emergency by those who have lost their homes because of the fire and by community leaders, and politicians.
Around 70 people are missing, according to Britain's Press Association, and identification of the victims is proving very hard.
Britain's trade minister says the exterior paneling used on the exterior of the London high-rise, in which dozens were killed in a fire, appears to have violated building rules.
Police said they are using the INTERPOL Disaster Victim Identification Standards to identify the deceased.
There is simmering anger in the multi-ethnic north Kensington area hit by the blaze, and public fury has been directed at senior government figures, including May, who was jeered Friday after she visited the fire community.
Hundreds have been left homeless by the blaze, putting more pressure on officials in a city already plagued by a chronic housing shortage.
Scuffles broke out near the Kensington and Chelsea town hall offices Friday as demonstrators chanting "We want justice!" surged toward the doors.
On the lack of sprinklers in Grenfell Tower, and other buildings, he said: "My understanding is that the best expert advice is that retrofitting sprinklers may not always be the best technical way of ensuring fire safety in a building".