British police release footage showing devastation inside London's Grenfell tower

Fire had ripped through the 24-storey residential block in north Kensington in the early hours of June 13, trapping hundreds of people inside.

A senior United Kingdom government minister said Sunday that he believed the cladding is banned in Britain for buildings above a certain height.

Experts believe the exterior cladding, which contained insulation, helped spread the flames quickly along the outside of the tower in the June 14 blaze.

Authorities released images of the aftermath of the horrific Grenfell Tower blaze showing the charred remains of the gutted apartment building as the death toll in the London fire nears 80.

Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan Police said that 16 bodies had been recovered from the 24-storey building in west London, but stressed that although investigators had reached the top of the tower the hard search could take weeks or longer because of the level of damage to the structure.

"I would like to reassure everybody that we will be looking at all criminal offenses that may have been committed by any individual or any organization", said Cundy.

However, five people who were originally reported as missing have since been found safe and well.

"Sadly, for many families, they have lost more than one family member, and my heart truly goes out to them", he said.

The fire triggered both sorrow and outrage, as residents described the futility of their earlier attempts to have the building's safety issues addressed, particularly its fire escape plan.

In addition to the questions surrounding the building's cladding - fitted to the high rise as part of a refurbishment project - the tower, built in the 1970s, also didn't have a sprinkler system installed.

Meanwhile, in Australia, authorities are calling for a nation-wide crackdown of the use of similar cladding.

The venue had been a focal point for efforts to support those affected by the fire which engulfed the apartment tower in a matter of minutes.

At least 58 people are dead or presumed dead and many others are homeless.

Cundy said police had now managed to get to the top of the tower and had undertaken a first visual search for victims, ahead of later painstaking searches.

"The tragedy at Grenfell Tower has left a number of local people in need of urgent assistance", a spokesman for the three royals at Kensington Palace said.

Faith leaders also called for "immediate action" to provide counselling and support services to ensure health and wellbeing to all those who are suffering, particularly the children.