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Identifying Grenfell victims 'becoming more difficult'

17 July 2017 National News


Identifying the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire is becoming “more difficult”, a coroner has said.

At least 80 people are believed to have died in the devastating blaze at the 24-storey building last month, but only 37 victims have been formally identified so far.

Coroner’s Office manager Eric Sword told a short hearing at Westminster Coroner’s Court that the difficulty in identifying victims was a result of “what we are dealing with, what we are recovering from the scene”.

Video: Footage emerges from inside fire-ravaged tower

A 13-year-old boy was among the latest victims to be named as four more inquests were opened on Monday.

Yahya Hashim was identified through dental records after his remains were recovered from the 22nd floor, and the teenager’s family were in court to hear his inquest opened and adjourned.

Also named was Sirria Choucair, a 60-year-old grandmother. She too was found on the 22nd floor of the tower block.

Five members of her family have been reported missing since the fire, including three young girls.

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Video: 11 July: ‘Fingertip search’ to identify Grenfell victims

Majorie Vital was the third victim to be named at Monday’s hearing. The 68-year-old woman had been recovered from the 23rd floor.

She was identified through dental records – as was 79-year-old Kamru Miah, who was found on the 17th floor.

The provisional cause of death for all four victims was “consistent with the effects of fire”.

All four inquests have been adjourned while the criminal investigation into the fire continues.

It comes as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on the Prime Minister to broaden the inquiry into the fire, amid “considerable concern among residents and others that the judge has already been directed towards narrowly defined terms of reference which will not bring residents the answers they seek”.

Angry residents confronted council leaders at the meeting

Video: 13 July: ‘When are we going to get justice?’

Mr Corbyn said splitting the inquiry into two parts would increase confidence in the process.

Under the Opposition’s proposal, the first part of the inquiry would report back this summer “to minimise further suffering of survivors” – providing urgent answers about what started the fire, why it spread so rapidly, why residents’ complaints were not acted upon and whether building regulations were contravened.

The second part of the inquiry would examine current fire regulations, housing allocation policies, and whether local councils and fire services are adequately funded.

Mr Corbyn said: “We would be disrespecting the memory of those who died in the Grenfell fire, and putting further lives at risk, if we fail to fully learn these lessons.

“The importance of residents and victims’ families having full confidence in this inquiry cannot be underestimated.”


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