London Grenfell disaster survivor tells how his family died

Smoke billows from the fire that engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London

By Lamiat Sabin in London, England:

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Grenfell inquiry hears man’s story of final phone call with mother and sister as they died in the fire

AHMED ELGWAHRY, who lost his mother and sister in the Grenfell fire, heard them fall silent on the phone before they died, he told the inquiry into the disaster today.

Mr Elgwahry described waiting helplessly at the bottom of the high-rise tower while speaking on the phone to his sister Mariem. She and their mother Eslah had taken refuge on the top floor.

On the sixth day of public commemorations of the fire’s victims, he recalled hearing them lose the ability to breathe.

He told the inquiry: “[Mariem] started fading away from me rather rapidly, but she kept going all the way until she was no longer audible. She started to mumble, started banging the floor and then finally no longer responsive.

“About 20 seconds later for the first time that early morning I heard my mum’s voice.

“She was struggling for breath and said her last words: ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.’ That was the last time I heard her voice. She was so frightened that she had not spoken prior to this.”

Mr Elgwahry said he did not end the call until more than an hour after their final words, even though all he could hear was the crackle of fire.

Tributes to 13 more of the 72 victims were heard at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in South Kensington, in the presence of inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick.

Mr Elgwahry told him: “What is being ignored is the failure to acknowledge the true, utter incompetence leading up to this preventable tragedy.

The repeated warnings about health and safety, the repeated warnings about weak regulations that had been under urgent review for years.

“The complacency, the financial conflict of interests, the neglect, the neglect by everyone that was involved in the decision-making process, the failure to warn that people’s lives were put at risk.

“The lack of compliance — that is probably a bit too kind — more like the complete non-existence of compliance, because there is no compliance.

“And the misconception that those living in social housing are simply a group of uneducated, second-class citizens who should be thankful for living in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.”

Hassan Awadh Hassan paid tribute to his wife Rania and young daughters Fethia and Hania, who died while he was away in Egypt.

He said that his wife already had concerns about fire before they moved into the tower in 2015.

Rania called him after the fire started and, when he saw the burning building on television, he went straight to the airport.

Mr Hassan continued: “I go to duty free to buy chocolate for my two daughters. I think: ‘How can I go back empty-handed?’”

He added that he never thought he would lose his family as he was confident that London was a safe place.

Also remembered by their loved ones were Italian architect Gloria Trevisan, five-year-old Isaac Paulos, Eritrean refugee Berkti Haftom, who was 10 weeks pregnant, and her son Biruk, Sakineh Afrasiabi, Mohammed al-Haj Ali, Hamid Kani and Raymond “Moses” Bernard.

5 thoughts on “London Grenfell disaster survivor tells how his family died

  1. Pingback: Convicted violent nazi ‘Tommy Robinson’ no ‘free spech martyr’ | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: London Grenfell Tower disaster, because of greed | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Jeremy Corbyn on London Grenfell disaster | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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