Seventy-nine people are dead or missing and presumed dead following a devastating blaze in a London tower block last week, police said on Monday, as Britain held a minute's silence for the victims.

"As of this morning, I'm afraid to say there are now 79 people that we believe are either dead or missing and I sadly have to presume are dead," police commander Stuart Cundy told reporters.

Police had earlier put the toll at 58 presumed dead.

He said only five people had been formally identified so far by police, after officers earlier warned that some may never be identified due to the condition of the remains.

Cundy said the search and recovery operation was ongoing in the burnt-out 24-storey tower.

"This is an incredible distressing time for families and they have my commitment that we will do this as quickly as we possibly can," he said.

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