“Please pray for me, there is a fire in the building and I can not leave the apartment. Pray for me and my mother. “That was the message that Khadija Saye posted on his Facebook account at 3 am Wednesday, as flames continued to devour the Grenfell building in London.
Since then, nothing is known about this 24-year-old artist, who lived in one of the 20th-century apartments. walking, where she was held back by the flames in the company of her mother, Mary. A thick layer of smoke prevented them from leaving the 24-story building, which was eventually burned to the ground.
The balance of the disaster, released on Monday, is 79 dead or missing. London Metropolitan Police warns that it may be impossible to verify the identity of all the fatal victims of the fire, apparently caused by breaches of security regulations.
Waiting for the many questions that the official investigations will try to answer, the testimonies of several survivors and their family and friends sketch the story of how the residents lived in that nightmare.
Authorities are taking no chances about how the fire started, but the main hypothesis is that
it started at Behailu Kebede’s fourth-floor apartment. At dawn on Wednesday, the 44-year-old
Ethiopian taxi driver, 15 of them based in the UK, knocked on his neighbor Abdul’s door.
“He told us we needed to leave because there was fire in his apartment. His friend added that
the refrigerator had blown up, but they both looked calm, “says Abdul. Maryann Adam, another
resident, reported to the British press that it was the neighbors who awakened her because
no fire alarm sounded. She added that she herself had seen a “small” fire in Kebede’s
apartment. When the flames – not yet known to come from this place or elsewhere – began to
spread rapidly, Paul Munark rushed down the stairs from the seventh floor and managed to
escape. “The fire alarms did not work inside the building,” he corroborated.
The Grenfell building, although located in a middle-class neighborhood in the west of the city (Notting Hill, North Kensington district), included official housing for low-income residents, and the profile of the residents was mostly very modest . Syrian Mohammed Alhajali, 23, lived in one of the 14th apartments. been a refugee in the UK three years ago. His name was the first to be released among the victims who died. This engineering student tried to escape downstairs with his brother Omar, but the smoke separated them and prevented Mohammed from going beyond the 13th. floor. He then returned to his apartment to make a farewell call, as the flames were already reaching him: “Please, help me. Tell my family that I love you, “he said, very frightened, to his interlocutor, a friend who did not have the name revealed. Omar, two years older, is hospitalized and heals well from injuries.
Like this young man, who succumbed to the fire after surviving the Bashar al-Assad regime and the Syrian war, other residents caught up in their apartments tried desperately to contact the outside world. Anthony Disson, 65, called some friends in the bathroom in his 22nd apartment. floor. They told him to wrap himself in a sheet and try to leave, but he said the floor was too hot. At around four o’clock he spoke to another friend: “Tell my children that I love you,” he said. His neighbor Ranya Ibrahim sent his followers a message from Snapchat with the following message: “Forgive me all. Bye”. Nura Jamal, mother of two small children, shouted on her last call: “The fire is here, we are going to die.”
Faced with these shocking accounts, some episodes of almost miraculous survival served as little balm for public opinion. Like the case of Elpidio Bonifacio, an almost blind grandfather, filmed by the TV cameras when he asked for help from the window. He was rescued 12 hours after the start of the fire, when he seemed sure that no one would be taken away alive. Or like that of the baby thrown by his mother from a window of the 10th. walk, who was caught-and saved-by a man.