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Grenfell Tower inquiry: 'Medical emergency' as woman collapses after harrowing fire footage shown

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 23/05/2018 Chloe Chaplain

A woman collapsed outside the Grenfell Tower inquiry after harrowing footage of the burning building was shown on screen without warning.

The film footage was part of a commemoration to the Choucair family, three generations of whom died in the fire.

Inquiry staff had said they would notify those in attendance - which included many survivors and bereaved relatives - before images of the tower appeared so as to reduce the amount of distress caused.

But on Tuesday afternoon phone camera footage flashed on both screens, showing flames engulfing the block, without any prior warning.

a group of people standing in front of a building: grenfell1604d.jpg © Provided by Independent Print Limited grenfell1604d.jpg
Catastrophic blaze: footage of the fire was shown on the screens which caused a great deal of distress (NIGEL HOWARD)

Huge distress instantly washed over the room and many of those affected could be seen burying their faces in their hands. People then began flooding from the room in tears with their cries being heard from the hallway.

Bernard Richmond QC, counsel to the inquiry, paused the video and later said: "Somebody has collapsed outside and is being dealt with, so if you could stay in the room that would be very helpful."
Tribute made to Grenfell victim on behalf of her mother

It has been reported that the person who collapsed was a woman who appeared to be suffering from a panic attack after seeing the fire footage. She was helped by paramedics outside the inquiry room.

It later transpired that the video was initially halted because, in the rush to help the women, someone flicked a switch causing colourful lights to begin flashing in the room. The pause in proceedings was then extended when staff realised the woman needed medical attention.

a view of a city with smoke coming out of it: 01grenfellfire1604a.jpg © Provided by Independent Print Limited 01grenfellfire1604a.jpg
Blaze: The Grenfell Tower fire on June 14 2017 (Jeremy Selwyn)

Acknowledging his failure to warn survivors about the shocking imagery, Mr Richmond said: "I'm sorry that the warning that should have been put out didn't get put out."

The dramatic development came towards the end of a second emotional day at the inquiry.

© Provided by Independent Print Limited a view of a city with smoke coming out of it © Provided by Independent Print Limited

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