Essex fire murder probe

A house fire that killed a mother and her five children in Harlow, Essex, last month is now being treated as a murder investigation, Essex Police have said.

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Funerals to take place of Essex house fire victims

The funerals are due to take place today for a doctor and her five children who died in a house fire in Harlow in Essex. Dr Sabah Usmani and her sons Sohaib, 11, and Rayyan, six, and daughter Hira, 13, died on 15 October. A third son, Muneeb, nine, and daughter Maheen, three, both died in hospital.

Mother Sabah Usmani and her five children Credit: ITV News

Father and husband Dr Abdul Shakoor was the only survivor. Today Dr Shakoor will be joined by family members from Pakistan and the US for the funeral at Harlow Islamic Centre.

Hospital: 'All of us have been saddened by this tragedy'

A spokesman for the Princess Alexandra Hospital, where Dr Shakoor worked and where Maheen was initially taken, has said:

None of us can come close to understanding his suffering and the terrible loss of Maheen, Rayyan, Muneeb, Sohaib, Hira and his wife Sabah.

On behalf of all our staff at Princess Alexandra Hospital, we extend our deepest sympathy to Dr Shakoor.

All of us have been saddened by this tragedy and as a close-knit hospital community, many of us know Dr Shakoor and have been overwhelmed by what has happened.

Our book of condolence, which is available for staff to sign in our hospital, is being filled with the most heartfelt and genuine messages which are truly humbling.

Our thoughts and our prayers are with our dear friend and colleague.

Sixth family member dies following house fire

Three-year-old Maheen Shakoor has become the sixth victim of a fire at her family home.

Her mum Sabah Usmani, brothers Sohaib, 11, and Rayyan, six, and her 12-year-old sister Hira, died in their end-of-terrace house in Barn Mead, Harlow, Essex in the early hours of Monday.

A house fire has claimed the lives of five siblings and their mother Sabah Usmani, Maheen is in the far right of the photograph. Credit: ITV News

Her nine-year-old brother Muneeb died later in hospital. Her father Dr Abdul Shakoor is continuing to receive treatment in hospital. Police are continuing to investigate the cause of the blaze.

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Fifth child dies after Harlow house fire

A fifth child has died following a house fire in Harlow. Three-year-old Maheen Shakoor died late this afternoon, a hospital spokesperson said.

The fire, which broke out early on Monday morning, also claimed the lives of Maheen's four siblings and mother. Maheen's father continues to recover from his injuries in hospital.

Urgent appeal for witnesses of Essex house fire

Police investigating a fatal house fire in Harlow, Essex, that that killed Doctor Sabah Usmani and four of her children have appealed for "residents and bystanders" who were in the area in the early hours of Monday to "come forward urgently."

Although we have spoken with many people there are still those who have not made contact with us. Very probably they feel they have no information and do not want to waste police time, but in reality if you were at or near the scene of this incident we need you to come forward urgently.

– Detective Superintendent Rob Vinson, Essex Police's Senior Investigating Officer

Essex Police have said they are keeping an "open mind" about the fire's cause will forensic work at the house nearly over.

But they confirmed this afternoon that local rumours of the blaze being started by a serial arsonist setting fire to vehicles were "categorically" false.

Death blaze could have been accident

Tests at the scene of a house fire which killed a woman and four of her children in Essex suggest that the blaze may have started accidentally. Police investigating the blaze on Monday say they are not ruling any possibility out and are continuing to investigate whether it was an arson attack.

However, early results suggest the fire started in the lounge at the rear of the house and no accelerant, such as petrol, was used. Doctor Sabah Usmani, her sons Sohaib, 11, and Rayyan, 6, and 12-year-old daughter Hira died in their terrace house in Barn Mead, Harlow, in the early hours of Monday.

A third son, Muneeb, nine, and second daughter Maheen, three, were rescued by fire crews and taken to hospital in a critical condition but Muneeb later died. Ms Usmani's husband, Abdul Shakoor, also a doctor, suffered minor injuries as he fought to rescue his family from the blaze.

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