Friday 20 October 2017

Baby found dead in mother's arms after Grenfell Tower fire, inquest told

The Grenfell Tower (David Mirzoeff/PA)
The Grenfell Tower (David Mirzoeff/PA)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A six-month-old baby was found dead in her mother's arms after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, an inquest heard.

Leena Belkadi and her sister Malak Belkadi, aged eight, both died from inhalation of fire fumes, Westminster Coroner's Court was told.

Leena's body was found in a stairwell between the 19th and 20th floor of the building.

Coroner's officer Eric Sword said she was "found in her mother's arms".

Malak was recovered from the 20th floor and died later at St Mary's Hospital, where she was taken alongside her sister Taxmin, aged six.

Their mother Farah Hamdan and father Omar Belkad also died in the blaze and inquests into their deaths have been opened and adjourned.

The family lived on the 20th floor of the high-rise building in west London.

Westminster coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox opened and adjourned the inquests of seven people including Leena and Malak on Wednesday.

The other victims whose inquests were opened included Syrian refugee Mohammed Al Haj Ali, previously named as Mohammad Alhajali.

The 23-year-old was the first fatality of the disaster to be formally identified by police.

His body was found outside the tower block and his preliminary cause of death was given as multiple injuries consistent with a fall from a height, the inquest heard.

Dr Wilcox gave her "sincere condolences" to two of his family members, believed to be his brothers, who attended the hearing.

His funeral was held a week after the disaster and was attended by his family, some of whom came over from Syria, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

A family statement read at the service said he "loved London and loved the people he met here", and had begun pursuing his dream of studying engineering.

"He was a loving and caring person, always showing support and solidarity for friends and family stuck back in Syria," the statement added.

"His very last words to us were how much he missed us. Ever since he moved away from us, we tried to be united with him and his brothers, and now, instead, we have been united by his body."

Husna Begum, 22, and her relative Rabeya Begum, 64, were also among the dead.

Both causes of death were "consistent with the effects of fire" and they were identified by dental records, the inquest heard.

Husna's body was found in the lobby near the lifts on the 17th floor while Rabeya's was recovered from the family's flat on the same floor.

Five members of the family were reported missing after the fire but it is not yet clear what has happened to the other three.

The inquest of Mohamed Amied Neda, who lived on the 23rd floor, was also opened.

The 57-year-old was found outside the tower and died from multiple injuries consistent with a fall, the hearing was told.

He was reported missing after the fire and his family was also said to have been severely injured and in hospital.

Zia Popal, who described Mr Neda as his uncle, posted on Facebook: "He was on the top floor of the building trying to help (people) and went missing since."

Dr Wilcox thanked three of his family members for attending the inquest and said: "I'm impressed with your dignity."

The final inquest was into the death of Abdeslam Sebbar, 67, who died from inhalation of fire fumes.

He was found in a flat on the 11th floor of the tower and identified by DNA.

All the inquests were adjourned until an internal hearing on July 12.

Dr Wilcox said they are expected to be suspended to allow the public inquiry and police investigation to continue.

She extended her "sincere condolences" to all those affected by the deaths.

About 80 people died when the fire ravaged the 24-storey block in the early hours of June 14. Many others have been left homeless by the blaze.

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