Husband lost wife during Grenfell Tower escape
17 June 2017 National News
A man who escaped the Grenfell Tower fire has spoken of his frustration at not knowing what has happened to his wife, as he waits for police to confirm whether or not they have found her body.
Sabah Abdullah, 72, lived on the 17th floor and was alerted that the fire had broken out when people started banging on his door in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
He has cuts on his feet after running in his bedclothes to escape the fire.
Mr Abdullah grabbed the hand of his wife Khadija Khalloufi but lost her somewhere between the 16th and 15th floors.
Talking to Sky News about that night, he said: “I opened the door and black smoke came towards our faces, so I grabbed her hand and told her to do like me – pull part of the dressing gown over her nose to filter the air.
“At the 16th floor I looked behind me, she’s there … We reached the 15th floor, I look back and I didn’t see her.”
Mr Abdullah made it out of the building but was desperate to find his wife. He said: “We were running from one hospital to the other, with the hope that we might get hold of her somehow, but we didn’t.”
Talking about his 52-year-old wife, he said: “She was very friendly, very lively, always laughing.
“I mean we spent 30 years together I feel like I’ve lost part of my body. It’s part of me.”
All of Mr Abdullah’s belongings were destroyed in the fire, he has been temporarily re-homed and he is being supported by his son Alex, but not knowing for certain if Khadija is dead is unbearable for the whole family.
The family are still waiting for police to confirm if she lost her life in the fire.
“One minute they say they’ve found the body, apparently she was found outside the building,” says her stepson Alex Abdullah. “How is that possible?”
He added: “The other thing they said is that they’ve identified the body through fingerprints, which is possible, but it’s not like she’s been involved in any crimes or anything to give fingerprints.
“We’re just in between. We don’t know if they’ve found her or she’s missing, we still don’t know and that’s what we’re trying to get to the bottom of.”
They have asked to visit the mortuary but have been told that is not possible.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: “Identifying large numbers of fatalities in a major incident is a complex and challenging process.
“Accurately identifying victims is crucial and every care is taken to ensure this is done as quickly as possible and to the highest standard, with due consideration to the families, in liaison with the senior identification manager and Coroner.”