Anguish for the missing after London tower block blaze



LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, Maureen Cofflard- Standing by an improvised wall of remembrance for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in west London, Sawsan Choucair is still desperately hoping her six relatives will be found alive.
"Pray For Our Community", "Justice For Grenfell" and "Rest In Peace" read some of the inscriptions on the wall, as police said 30 bodies had been found so far. Dozens more are missing, feared dead.



Choucair's mother, sister and brother-in-law and the couple's three children lived on the 22nd floor of the 24-storey, 120-apartment tower in Kensington.
"I'm praying for them to be in hospital," Choucair, who is of Lebanese origin, told AFP.
She said she had only spoken to her sister briefly on the phone that night.
"I could hear people screaming, shouting. I don't know where they were," she said.
- 'I haven't slept' -
Anguish, anger and fatigue are etched on the faces of many friends and relatives still wandering around in a daze, after police said there could be no survivors and some of the bodies may never be identified.
"I haven't slept for two days and two nights. I'm looking for my friend," said Nadir, speaking near the Westway sports centre where some of the people evacuated from nearby buildings have been given shelter.
"I went to every single hospital," he said.
Nadir said he was looking for Yacine Wahabi, a young man of Moroccan origin who lived on the 21st floor and who is missing along with his whole family.
"I don't know what's happening," said Nadir, who spoke of his anger at Prime Minister Theresa May for not meeting families of the victims.
May only met with emergency workers when she visited the site on Thursday, although she went to a hospital to speak to injured survivors on Friday.
Nadir explained that several Muslim residents in the area were able to help out during the fire because they were still awake after breaking their Ramadan fast and attending prayers at a local mosque.
"People from the mosque went straight directly to the fire," Nadir said.
A friend of Nadir's, Imad Deen Zeggaf, said he had checked inside the community centre for Yacine to no avail.
"It was easy for England to send over planes, missiles to bomb Syria but when it comes to saving people here at home..." he said.
- 'I'm broken' -
The community has come together in solidarity, plastering the area with pictures of the missing.
Donated clothes, toys and goods have piled up in the community centres, which are now calling for people to either donate money or non-perishable goods.
Amina Ahmed, who is of Yemeni origin, said she was mourning for her friend Faouzia El-Wahabi -- the mother of Yacine, Nadir's missing friend.
Ahmed said her friend was told by the emergency services to stay inside her flat and the family locked themselves in the bathroom, waiting to be rescued.
"I hope to hear from her but actually 100 percent she is dead," said Ahmed, who lives nearby.
"She called her cousin and said I'm dying, the fire is entering. Since then, nothing. She's gone."
"I'm broken. I feel angry, I feel sad, I feel everything. I lost my friend. She was there and I couldn't help her."
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Saturday, June 17th 2017
Maureen Cofflard
           


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