The father of the Grenfell tragedy’s youngest victim broke down in tears as he recalled the harrowing moment he held his dead son in his arms.
Marcio Gomes was joined by survivors of the devastating high-rise fire in London on Monday as relatives paid tribute to some of the 72 victims at the opening of an inquiry into Britain’s deadliest blaze in decades.
Baby Logan Gomes was stillborn after Mr Gomes’ wife and daughter lay in comas after escaping the flames from the 21st floor.
“I held my son in my arms that evening hoping it was all a bad dream, wishing, praying for any kind of miracle that he would just open his eyes, move, make a sound,” Mr Gomes said.
“He might not be here physically but he will always be here in our hearts, and will be forever.
“I know he’s here with God right next to me, giving me strength and courage to take this forward.”
Mr Gomes, who broke fought off tears throughout the hearing, said his wife, Andreia, was “made of the hardest material” after surviving the tragedy.
The Grenfell Tower inquiry is beginning with two weeks of tributes to those who died when a fire that began in a faulty fridge raced through the 24-storey apartment block in June 2017.
The statements from friends and family members are meant to keep the victims at the centre of the inquiry, which will try to determine how the disaster happened and prevent a similar tragedy happening in the future.
“When we die, we live on in the memories of those who knew and loved us,” retired judge Martin Moore-Bick, who is leading the inquiry, said.
“It is fitting therefore that the opening hearings … should be dedicated to the memory of those who died.”
The inquiry heard a message left by Mohamed Amied Neda from inside his apartment.
“Goodbye, we are leaving this world now, goodbye,” the 57-year-old, who came to Britain from Afghanistan and ran a chauffeur company, said.
He was found dead after falling from the building. His wife and son were left comatose but survived.
Mohammadou Saye remembered his 24-year-old daughter Khadija Saye, a promising visual artist whose work was shown at last year’s Venice Biennale.
“Her burning passion was photography, encouraged by her mother, Mary Mendy, who also lost her life in the same fire,” he said in a statement read by a lawyer.
“Khadija said to me one day, ‘Daddy, I’m in love with images’.”
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Mr Moore-Bick’s inquiry will look at causes of the blaze, the response of local authorities and the country’s high-rise building regulations.
But some survivors are critical because it will not investigate wider issues around social housing that many residents had wanted to include.
Many residents accuse officials in Kensington and Chelsea, one of London’s richest boroughs, of ignoring their safety concerns because the publicly owned tower was home to a largely immigrant and working-class population.
Police say they are considering individual or corporate manslaughter charges in the blaze, but no one has been charged.
– with Associated Press