Several Ethiopian Families Missing After Deadly West London Fire

Fredrick Ngugi June 21, 2017
Mother and son Brkite and Biruk Haftom lived in the ill-fated Grenfell Tower. Photo credit: BBC

Several Ethiopian families living in Britain have been reported missing, following the deadly inferno that gutted down a 24-story apartment block in West London six days ago.

The families are said to have been living in the fateful Grenfell Tower, a high-tower block of public housing flats in North Kensington, West London, at the time of the accident.

Among them are Brkite and Biruk Haftom (Mother and son) and Hashim Kidir, his wife, and their three children. Another Ethiopian, 5-year-old Isaac Shawo, has been confirmed dead, according to the Ethiopian Embassy.

“We can confirm that there are a number of Ethiopian-born citizens among the casualties. We continue to monitor the situation and will provide further information as soon as it becomes available,” the statement from the embassy reads in part.

Brkite and Biruk, who lived in Flat No. 155 of the skyscraper, went missing on the night of the fire, and efforts by Brkite’s sister to trace them have been futile, according to family friend Dejan Araya.

Rising Death Toll

The latest reports from the police say at least 79 people may have died in the early morning fire, while more than a dozen others remain in critical condition.

The death toll, which previously stood at 30, is expected to rise — although not significantly — as police continue the search and identification of victims.

London Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy told reporters Monday that the “awful reality” is that it may not be possible for them to identify all the victims.

“It is incredibly hard to describe the devastation in some parts of that building,” Cundy emotionally told reporters about the scene inside the gutted tower.

He added that five of the people who had been reported missing after the accident have been found safe and sound.

Financial Support Amid Protests

On Saturday, British Prime Minister Theresa May met with 15 survivors and community leaders at her official residence at 10 Downing Street London, where she announced the government’s plan to compensate the victims with at least £5,500 each.

While welcoming the financial support, the residents criticized Mrs. May for not consulting them before the announcement was made.

On Friday, hundreds of protesters gathered in the streets of London, demanding justice for the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. They blamed city officials for ignoring numerous safety concerns that had been raised by residents of the ill-fated tower months before the accident.

The cause of the fire is still unknown but some residents are blaming it on the “incompetent” Tenant Management Organization, which they say refused to investigate their concerns regarding the poor state of the decades-old apartment block.

It is still not clear whether other Africans were in the building during the fire tragedy.

Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: June 21, 2017


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