Tower fire survivor recounts last minutes with brother, who didn’t escape

Omar al Haj Ali lived with his brother Mohammed in London’s Grenfell Tower.

Omar, 25, was in college studying business. His brother Mohammed was a 23-year-old engineering student.

Prior to coming to London, the brothers had lived with their family in Syria.

The family fled the civil war and were given refugee status in the UK.

The brothers thought they had escaped violent death.

But only one of them escaped from Grenfell Tower

Omar joined a group of people descending a smoke-choked stairway. He thought his brother was right behind him.


And I looked behind me I didn’t see my brother, I said, ‘My brother, my brother, where is he?’ Omar remembered.

“Then I went outside, I called him and said, ‘Where are you?’ He said ‘I’m in the flat.’

“I said,’Why you didn’t come? They brought us outside, I thought you are with us.’

“He said, ‘No one brought me outside.’

“I thought they took him outside with me, they didn’t, they left him,”Omar recapped.

Omar called his brother’s cellphone from outside the blazing building. Mohammed said was trapped in the 14th-floor apartment. Firefighters were unable to advance past the 13th floor.

The brothers spoke on the phone for almost two hours. it was plain that Mohammed understood his situation.

He said, ‘Please tell mum to pray for me’ and he was telling me to put Koran for him,” said Hashem, Mohammed’s other brother.

“He said, ‘Are you happy with me, are you happy about me, do you have any problem with me?’

“I said, ‘No who has a problem with you, you have a sweet heart Mohammed, you will make it out’ and then he said, he was speaking slowly and slowly and then he said ‘I can’t, Hashem’.”

Mohammed Al Haj Ali was just the first victim to be identified by name.

More identifications will come.

So too will more heartbreaking stories.

 
 
 
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