Huge fire in London

The BBC has aerial footage of a huge blaze in the London Borough of Croydon, after violence broke out on the U.K. capital's streets for a third day. Camberwell, where I lived for years, is reportedly in a state of panic, with shops being vandalized in nearby Peckham. Sky News reports that there is now unrest in Birmingham.

The building on fire is the House of Reeves, a 140-year old furniture business.

Residents report widespread looting in Croydon's downtown, with updates appearing regularly on the the local newspaper's liveblog. One odd aspect of all this is that it's unfolding live on TV and twitter in one of the world's wealthiest and most high-tech cities, with politicians on-hand to condemn events occurring in front of their very eyes. But that seems to be all they can do about it.

Labour Party MP Diane Abbott expressed astonishment that the police were unable to prevent the continued looting: "is the Metropolitan Police telling us they can't be in two places at once?"

The Guardian speculates that the Police are so accustomed to well-planned "kettling" operations that they are simply unable to cope with roaming groups who aren't filing their protest march routes. [via Mennonot]

London Mayor Boris Johnson, who had refused to cut short his vacation, has finally decided to return to the U.K., as has Prime Minister David Cameron.

The unrest was sparked after Metropolitan police shot dead 29-year-old Mark Duggan and did not contact his next of kin. The force has apologized to his relatives. Forensic evidence from the scene of the shooting is still being examined. [BBC]