Families of Grenfell Tower residents wait for news of loved ones

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http://maltawinds.com/2017/06/16/families-grenfell-tower-residents-wait-news-loved-ones/

Family members of those who lived in London’s Grenfell Tower pleaded on Thursday for information about loved ones still missing one day after a devastating fire.

“My mum is missing — Sheila, 84 years old, 16th floor of Grenfell Tower,” wrote Adam Smith on Twitter.

“Please help us find Mohammad Alhajali … His family are worried sick about him and his brother is in hospital,” Mirna Suleiman, wrote on Facebook about a Syrian refugee who was unaccounted for. Another friend later confirmed that Mr. Alhajali was killed in the blaze.

Neighbours in this corner of West London plastered trees with fliers of the missing and piled bags of donated clothing and food on the sidewalk for those displaced by the fire.

At least 17 people were killed in the inferno, the Metropolitan Police said on Thursday. The police said they expected that number to grow.

The authorities, still unable to enter and search the 24-story building, have yet to provide an official number of missing people. But dozens of families say they are still waiting for answers.

In ways as new as Snapchat and as old as paper and ink, families members are seeking information — and solace.

On Thursday, more than 30 hours after the fire began, once hopeful social media posts turned desperate.

“If anyone has seen my dad Tony Disson could they let us know,” Lee Disson wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.

By Thursday, the younger Mr. Disson wrote simply: “Still praying for him,” and posted a photo of his father.

In another post, Mr. Disson detailed how his father received a phone call telling him to get out of the building, but that he was unable to escape. The elder Mr. Disson urged the caller to tell his sons that he loved them.

Mr. Disson expressed frustration with the news media and the authorities, which he chastised for providing little information.

Firefighters were still working on Thursday to make safe the charred shell that remained of Grenfell Tower in order to continue their search.

“It is going to take a considerable period of time, and the building needs to be made structurally safe,” Stuart Cundy, the Metropolitan Police commander, said in a statement. “But I reiterate again, it is going to be a lengthy process.”

“Today the work really starts in earnest to ensure that we do the appropriate recovery of everybody from those premises,” Mr. Cundy said.

David Lammy, a member of Parliament, shared photos of one resident, Khadija Saye, on his Facebook page. Calling her a “beautiful soul and an outstanding emerging artist,” Mr. Lammy appealed for information about the woman and her mother.

Ms. Saye lived with her mother, Mary Mendy, on the 20th floor of the building and would have turned 25 next month. Mr. Lammy said. Ms. Saye had sent messages from inside the burning building asking for prayers.

“I have heard nothing since her Facebook post saying, ‘Please pray for me and my mum,’” Mr. Lammy said in an email. “I fear the worst and like hundreds of other people all can we can do is wait, hope and pray.”

One of Ms. Saye’s cousins, Gemma Macauley, said the police had contacted Ms. Saye’s father on Thursday to identify her body. Her name has yet to be formally released by the police, and her mother remains missing.

“I feel sick, I didn’t want to wake up this morning knowing that my family were burnt to death,” Ms. Macauley said. “I feel numb and in shock.”

Firefighters said Wednesday that there was little hope additional survivors would be found.

Dany Cotton, the fire commissioner, told reporters it would be a “miracle” if any of the unaccounted for had survived.

The government has asked those searching for family and friends to contact it on a dedicated telephone line to help determine who is still missing.

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