Friday 23 February 2018

Video: Father whose wife and five kids were killed in fire has 'lost everything'

Ben Kendall

A MAN who lost his wife and five children in a house fire has spoken of his heartbreak, saying: "I have lost everything."

Dr Abdul Shakoor was speaking at the funeral of his family, who died in the blaze at their home in Essex last week.

Breaking down in tears, he said: "It is a shocking and heartbreaking tragedy to myself, immediate family members and close friends that within such a short period of time I lost everything in my life."

The emotional speech during the funeral at the Harlow Islamic Centre was the first time Dr Shakoor has spoken publicly.

He quoted verses from the Koran and added: "It would not be possible for me to stand at this time and face this reality without guidance from the holy Koran and from the personal life of the prophet Mohammed.

"I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to this community, the hospital and my colleagues and all of those who have come forward like a family at this devastating time.

"I hope that the police and other authorities will continue with their efforts to investigate how this tragedy occurred.

"I would like to thank you all for being with us to support me and my family through this irreparable loss."

Four hundred mourners joined Dr Shakoor to pay their respects.

Sabah Usmani, also a doctor, and her children - Hira, 12, Sohaib, 11, Muneeb, nine, Rayyan, six, and Maheen, three - died in the blaze in Barn Mead, Harlow, last week.

Dr Shakoor, who tried to rescue his family, was the only survivor.

Paramedics, firefighters and police officers who dealt with the blaze joined members of the Muslim community for the funeral.

Teachers and pupils who went to school with the children and staff from the Princess Alexandra Hospital where Dr Shakoor works were also at the ceremony.

Imam Muhammed Saleem led prayers for the family.

He reassured mourners that, under Islamic tradition, those killed by fire die as martyrs.

A foot procession to the nearby Parndon Wood Cemetery followed prayers at the centre.

Six hearses led the way, the first carrying the smallest coffin, that of Maheen, who was due to celebrate her fourth birthday yesterday, with Dr Usmani's coffin at the back of the cortege.

Dr Shakoor followed behind, with community elders holding his hand in a show of solidarity. At one point he seemed overcome and needed help standing.

Members of the public stood along the roadside to pay their tributes.

Each coffin, topped with flowers, carried the words "Victim of the Harlow house fire".

Parvez Hamed, a close friend of the family, said: "I spent yesterday with Dr Shakoor.

"What he is going through is unimaginable and we all share his pain."

Essex Police were initially treating the blaze as a suspected arson attack but no trace of an accelerant used to spark the flames has been found.

Although officers are continuing to investigate all possibilities, it is now thought "increasingly likely" that the fire was a tragic accident.

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