The bereaved relative of a family of five “cremated unwillingly” in the Grenfell Tower fire has asked why more was not done to save her loved ones trapped as the high-rise burned “like a torch”.
The June 14 blaze almost halved the number of grandchildren in the family, Assema Kedir Habib said, as she promised to try to go on, but never move on.
Her brother Hashim Kedir, 44, died alongside his wife Nura Jemal, 35, daughter Firdaws Hashim, 12, and sons Yahya Hashim, 13, and Yaqub Hashim, six.
Compounding the tragedy, Ms Habib’s grief-stricken father died just 12 days after finding out his son and his family had all perished in the blaze.
They were “cremated unwillingly” after being repeatedly instructed to stay in their flat, she said, while a circling helicopter could have saved at least one child.
“It felt like the attempt to save them, to save what was left of them, stopped too early,” she said in a statement read out by solicitor Mark Scott.
She said: “I still have a problem accepting the fact that the UK – one of the most powerful countries in the world – could not do anything more in the year 2017 to save them. To save what was left of them.
“Why wasn’t more done to save our loved ones? Why didn’t the UK as a Government try to do more that night? Why wasn’t more done to at least save their dead bodies?
“Was it because the lives of the victims of Grenfell Tower didn’t matter? Was it because our pain doesn’t matter? Was the cost of trying to do more higher than the lives of our loved ones?”
Ms Habib’s statement came on the fifth day of commemorations at the public inquiry at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in South Kensington.
The idea of what the children’s “small and beautiful bodies had gone through during the 24 hours that tower was burning like a torch, the fear and helplessness of their parents”, made her lose her trust in humanity, she said.
She spoke of how the fire had also “stolen” her elderly father, telling the room he died 12 days after hearing the news of his familys demise.
His health deteriorated after the tragedy and he had difficulty breathing.
She said: “He persistently denied at the beginning that something so horrible could happen to his generous, devout and loving son, and that he could survive his own beloved grandchildren.
“He died when he finally realised that they were in fact gone, after only three days in a hospital bed. How can one make sense of losing six family members at the same time?”
Her father was buried in their home country of Ethiopia before the rest of the family were laid to rest in the UK.
In another emotional day, the inquiry heard tributes to 15 victims including another family of five, the El-Wahabis.
Father Abdulaziz, 52, mother Faouzia, 42, and children Yasin, 20, Nur Huda, 16, and Mehdi, eight, were all killed in the fire.
Twelve-year-old Jessica Urbano Ramirez, Vincent Chiejina, 60, Ligaya Moore, 78, Khadija Khaloufi, 52, and Steve Power, 63, were also remembered.
The commemorations before Sir Martin Moore-Bick are expected to continue until next Wednesday.