At least dozen Ethiopians feared dead in London’s tower fire

ESAT News (June 15, 2017)

Tirufat, her husband and their only child were fast asleep when the Grenfell tower caught fire a little past midnight on Wednesday. There was no fire alarm. They woke up to the ringing of the husband’s cell phone. The voice on the other side alert them of the fire blazing in the building. Their friend told them they need to leave immediately.

They tried to run down the staircase but the fume was so suffocating they had to run back to the apartment. She called the emergency line and was told to stay in their unit. “We trusted them and stayed in,” she told ESAT’S London Bureau.

There was a bang at their door an hour after the fire started. By then the fire had already consumed half of the building on the other side. Tirufat and her family were taken to safety.

British media reported that at least 17 people were confirmed dead and 34 missing while 18 are in critical condition. Daily Mail reported that a faulty fridge is alleged to have started the Grenfell Tower inferno from a flat belonging to an Ethiopian resident on the fourth floor, Behailu Kebede, whom neighbors said raised the alarm as soon as the fire started in his kitchen.

Tirufat, who lived at the 7th floor with her husband and a child, told ESAT’s London Bureau that she estimates at least 13 Ethiopians were still missing. “There are Ethiopians and Eritreans in every floor,” she said.

BBC Newsnight’s Chris Cook says the type of cladding on the outside of Grenfell Tower, installed in 2015 during a refurbishment, had a polyethylene – or plastic – core, instead of a more fireproof alternative with a mineral core.

Tirufat agrees with BBC’s statement. “Residents had concerns over the plastic cladding. We already knew it was not fireproof.”

Concerns have also been raised about fire alarms not going off and the lack of sprinklers, according to a report by the BBC.

Ethiopians meanwhile organized a prayer on Thursday for those who lost their lives in the inferno and those still unaccounted for.

Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered a full public inquiry into the fire. The PM said people “deserve answers” as to why the fire spread so rapidly.

That death toll is expected to rise, as fire chiefs do not expect to find any more survivors in the burnt-out Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, according to the BBC.

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