Edition 1437
19 August 2017
Edition: 1437

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

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Portuguese families caught up in London tower block inferno

by Carrie-Marie Bratley, in News · 15-06-2017 12:21:00 · 0 Comments

Two Portuguese children and a seven-month-pregnant Portuguese woman were among the casualties caused by the raging inferno at a residential tower block in west London during the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Portuguese families caught up in  London tower block inferno

The two children were admitted to a London hospital in a “serious condition” and with a “reserved prognosis”, according to early reports immediately following the catastrophic fire, but at the time of going to press [on Thursday] were said to be out of danger and under observation.
Their parents, emigrants from Madeira, also had to receive medical assistance for minor injuries.
A seven-month-pregnant Portuguese woman was also rushed to hospital in a very serious condition following the blaze.
It is understood the woman is named Andreia Gomes and lived on the 21st floor of the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in Kensington, West London, with her husband and two daughters.
According to Portugal’s State Secretary for Communities, at least ten Portuguese nationals were residing in the building that went up in flames.
All have since been accounted for but lost their homes in the ordeal.
Among them was 20-year-old student Francisco Ramos, who was studying music at the Royal Academy of Music.
Luckily, Ramos was not at home when the fire started but he did lose all his possessions after the fire engulfed the 13th floor flat he shared with a
colleague.
Speaking to Madeira newspaper Diário de Notícias da Madeira, he said “lives were lost; lots of lives were lost, especially on the top floors.”
Portuguese father and daughter Miguel and Inês Alves, who also lived on the 13th floor of the tower block, spoke to the Guardian about their ordeal.
Despite losing everything, Ines, 16, said she still went to Sacred Heart School to complete her GCSE maths exam. “But I missed my history exam in the afternoon,” she added.
Miguel, a chauffeur, told the Guardian he noticed the fire as he returned home from work early in the morning.
“I just arrived when the fire started. I was in the lift, I pressed 13 and somebody pressed four. When the doors opened at the fourth floor, smoke billowed into the lift. I just came out of the lift because I didn’t know what was going on, and I just went up by the staircase to wake up my son and daughter.”
According to the Guardian Ines said that firefighters at the bottom of the tower had told her mother, who got down earlier, to pass on a message that they should stay in their flat.
“They told my mum to tell my dad, for us to stay up in our flat safely, just close the windows and all the doors. But she didn’t tell us in time so we ended up coming down anyway. Obviously they never knew it was going to get to this extent”, she recalled.
Echoing the views of many other residents who have since spoken to the media, Mr. Ramos complained that residents had repeatedly warned the council that their block was not safe. “Many times we make a lot of points, and nobody cares; they ignore us,” he said.
Flames engulfed the 24-storey building during the early hours of Wednesday and raged for several hours before being brought under control.
Those whom managed to escape the building and eyewitnesses told of a “hell-like” scenario in which people desperately tried to escape by all means, including jumping out of windows.
More than 200 fire-fighters were dispatched to tackle the blaze, and early fears were that the building might collapse due to the damage caused by the heat and the flames.
Reports suggest a faulty fridge might have been the cause of the fire, and cladding could have contributed to its spreading and intensity.
Latest statistics suggest at least 50 people were injured and 12 people were killed by the fire at Grenfell Tower in north Kensington, which last year underwent a £10 million refurbishment.
The death toll is expected to rise.

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Edition 1437
19 August 2017
Edition: 1437

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter