Grenfell Tower fire: Syrian refugees feared dead are safe and well but have lost everything

Rawan Khudair says they are fine but her home and belongings have been destroyed by the blaze

Caroline Mortimer
Monday 19 June 2017 21:01 BST
May to visit Grenfell Tower fire victims in hospital after criticism

A Syrian refugee family believed to have gone missing following the devastating Grenfell Tower fire have been found safe and well.

The Khudair family, believed to be made up of two parents and their three adult daughters, were living in a flat about midway up the 24 storey tower in west London having fled the civil war.

They were reported missing by Catherine Lindsay, an adult language tutor at a local charity, who was teaching them English.

Ms Lindsay told the Huffington Post the family had arrived from Syria “recently” and she hoped they were “alive and well”.

But The Independent has now managed to speak to one of the daughters, Rawan, via Facebook who said they were unhurt in the fire but their flat was burned and all their belongings had been destroyed.

She said they were now getting help from the local community, saying they had been “very nice”.

At least 30 people have died in the fire, with the death toll expected to rise, and the first victim has been identified as Syrian refugee Mohammed Alhajali.

The 23-year-old tried to leave his 14th-floor flat with older brother Omar but the pair became separated on the way down and he returned upstairs.

While waiting for over two hours to be rescued by firefighters, Mr Alhajali messaged family and friends in Syria to say goodbye.

Friends confirmed 25-year-old Omar made it out and is currently being treated for smoke inhalation at King's Cross hospital.

Local artist Khadija Saye, whose work is currently being exhibited at the prestigious Venice Biennale art show, was also confirmed to have died in the blaze.

She lived on the 20th floor with her mother, Mary Mende, who is still unaccounted for.

Anger has grown about the conduct of the authorities both before and after the blaze.

It has emerged that the fire, which is believed to have been started on one of the lower floors, may have spread quickly due to the plastic cladding on the corners of the building.

The managers of the building, the Kensington and Chelsea Tenants' Organisation, have been accused of putting the cladding on the building to make it look nicer for their wealthier neighbours.

They were heavily criticised for not installing slightly more expensive but non-flammable type of cladding which would have cost just £5,000 more, and for the lack of sprinklers in the building.

Grenfell Tower Action Blog, which had been campaigning for changes to the safety procedures in the tower, wrote in a 2016 post the block was a "catastrophe waiting to happen" and said residents had repeatedly warned the council about fire safety.

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