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  1. ITV Report

Firefighters 'refused to believe' Grenfell victim was still trapped, inquiry hears

A Syrian refugee whose brother was accidentally left to die in Grenfell Tower has described how firefighters refused to believe he was still trapped.

Omar al-Haj Ali, who arrived in the UK with his brother, Mohammad, in 2014, had been on the 14th floor of the west London block on June 14 last year.

They had lived in flat 112 since September 2016, but on the night of the fire, the brothers and their neighbours sought shelter in flat 113.

When firefighters eventually came to rescue the eight residents, only four escaped, while four others, including Mohammad, were left behind.

Mohammad jumped to his death from a window, after the other three victims had fallen unconscious.

In a written statement to the Grenfell Tower inquiry, Omar al-Haj Ali spoke of his panic as he called Mohammad and realised he was still inside. He wrote:

I said to Mohammad: 'Why didn't you come with us?' and he replied saying no-one took him out of the flat. While I was still on the phone to Mohammad I walked over to a fireman inside the tower and told them that my brother was still in the flat and could not get out," his account continued.

I was saying: 'Please go upstairs, please. There are children upstairs.' Some firefighters were saying that they were sure that they took everyone out. They ignored me and didn't believe me. I was told by a firefighter that I was in shock and maybe I was in panic.

I walked from one fireman to another and I spoke to many of them telling them to help my brother. I felt like they were ignoring what I was saying.

One of the firemen did listen and wrote 113 on his hand, Omar al-Haj Ali, but none of them then went inside.

– Omar al-Haj Ali

He recalled Mohammad telling him over the phone that he was "scared to leave by himself" because of the thick smoke in the hallway.

In flat 113 with him was Zainab Deen and her young son Jeremiah and Denis Murphy.

Omar was outside becoming increasingly frantic as he tried to get the attention of firefighters.

I tried 100 times to speak to any fireman I could. I even passed one of the firemen the telephone to speak to my brother himself but he didn't take the phone. He didn't want to speak to him. I was upset and angry. The firemen then moved me back next to the children's playground. None of them listened to me. If they had, my brother could have been saved.

– Omar al-Haj Ali

The fire had now begun to creep towards flat 113, prompting Omar to make several attempts to get back into the tower, without success.

I felt like I had lost my mind. I was panicking. I was emotional and I was saying random things. I was overwhelmed with worry. I lost my mind.

– Omar al-Haj Ali

At this stage, the effects of smoke inhalation began to overcome him and he was rushed to King's College Hospital.