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Baby girl was found dead in mother's arms in Grenfell Tower stairwell

The Guardian logo The Guardian 29/06/2017 Caroline Davies
Tributes and missing posters near the site of the Grenfell Tower blaze in west London. © AFP/Getty Images Tributes and missing posters near the site of the Grenfell Tower blaze in west London.

A six-month-old baby was found dead in her mother’s arms after the Grenfell Tower disaster, in which at least 80 people died or are missing presumed dead, an inquest has heard.

Leena Belkadi’s body was found in a stairwell between the 19th and 20th floors of the 24-storey high-rise block, Westminster coroner’s court was told.

The coroner’s officer, Eric Sword, said she was “found in her mother’s arms”. Leena’s sister, Malak, aged eight, who was recovered from the 20th floor, where the family lived, and taken to St Mary’s hospital, also later died. The cause of death for both sisters was given as inhalation of fire fumes.

The girls’ parents, Farah Hamdan and Omar Belkadi, also died in the blaze and inquests into their deaths have already been opened and adjourned. Another daughter, Tazmin, six, was taken to St Mary’s hospital.

The Westminster coroner, Dr Fiona Wilcox, opened and adjourned inquests on Wednesday into the deaths of seven who died at Grenfell Tower, including the two sisters.

Also among them was the Syrian refugee Mohammed Al Haj Ali, 23, previously named as Mohammad Alhajali, and who was the first fatality of the disaster to be formally identified by police.

His body was found outside the tower block, and his preliminary cause of death was given as multiple injuries consistent with a fall from a height, the inquest heard. The funeral of the engineering student was held a week after the disaster and attended by family, some of whom travelled from Syria to be present. Two family members attended the hearing as the coroner expressed her “sincere condolences” to them, and all others affected by the deaths.

Husna Begum, 22, and her relative Rabeya Begum, 64, were also among the dead. They were identified by dental records and both causes of death were “consistent with the effects of fire”, the inquest heard. Husna’s body was found in the lobby near to the lifts on the 17th floor, while Rabeya’s was recovered from the family’s flat on the same floor. Five members of the family were reported missing after the fire, but it is not yet clear what has happened to the other three.

The inquest of Mohamed Amied Neda, 57, who lived on the 23rd floor, was also opened. He was found outside the tower and died from multiple injuries consistent with a fall. He was reported missing after the fire and his family were also said to have been severely injured and in hospital. Zia Popal, who described him as his uncle, had posted on Facebook: “He was on the top floor of the building trying to help and went missing since.” Three family members attended the hearing. The coroner thanked them, saying: “I am impressed with your dignity.”

Abdeslam Sebbar, 67, died from inhalation of fire fumes. The inquest heard he was found in a flat on the 11th floor and identified by DNA.

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