London apartment fire: Neighbours, onlookers share horror

Residents in London have had to stand helplessly watching a 24-storey apartment building in London go up in flames.

Neighbours of the Grenfell Tower block in North Kensington have shared their horror at seeing the scale of the disaster.

Hundreds of firefighters have been sent out after fire engulfed the building early on Wednesday morning (local time), with reports residents are jumping out in order to escape.

"I live down there, about a five minute walk away, and we could hear people screaming 'help me, help me' and flashing their phone lights to let people know that they were there," one woman, who didn't give her name, told the Associated Press.

Another woman was haunted by the sounds.

"But there's just nothing... you are just helpless," she said.

The two women, who could see the scale of the devastation from their back garden, said they've been let through the cordon to bring water and blankets to those involved in the disaster.

"I was around the other side about an hour ago, and there was a girl of about 10 with a fireman, and they are taking them all up to Clarendon Road around here. But it's awful, I just can't believe the way it spread," the first woman said.

More than 200 people live in the apartment block and evacuations are underway.