LONDON (Reuters) – Notting Hill Carnival, the biggest street party in Europe, fell silent for a minute on Sunday to remember the more than 80 people who were killed in June in an apartment block fire in the west London district.
Sound systems were turned off at 14:00 GMT in tribute to the victims of the disaster at Grenfell Tower, a tower block less that half a mile from the route of a procession that is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of revelers on Sunday and Monday.
Doves were released at the official opening ceremony of the 51st event. The local community is determined to remember the victims at the carnival that celebrates Afro-Caribbean culture.
But as well as sadness there is anger directed at the local authorities and the government after fire raced through the block and trapped dozens living in its upper floors in June.
Some feared that tempers could boil over at the festival, but the local community is determined it should be a peaceful vigil. On Sunday, the carnival got off to a lively but trouble-free start.
The Grenfell Tower blaze prompted widespread support for the community, but also anger over accusations of mismanagement by the local authorities. Protesters stormed the council building in the days after the tragedy, and the borough council leader resigned.
The council was criticized by locals and politicians for its slow and ineffective response to the fire, while many accuse the authority, which administers one of Britain’s wealthiest areas, of having turned its back on social housing.
Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Susan Thomas