Good Afternoon, sir, panel members. To lose one member of your family is a grave loss, to lose four, is a tragedy beyond measure and it is, therefore, with a heavy heart that I make this presentation about a beloved wife and a family of three who died on the 14 June 2017. The pain of reliving these moments is so unbearable that none of the family who survived are able to attend today. It is, simply, just too painful for them.
Sir, the photos we just saw are of Mohamednur Tuccu, the brother of Ibrahim Toukou. They also showed his partner, Amal Ahmedin, and their three year-old daughter Amaya Tuccu-Ahmedin. They lived at Flat 166 Grenfell Tower on the 19th Floor.
The photos we saw also showed Amna Mahmud Idris, she was the wife of Ibrahim Abdalkarim. Amna Idris was not a resident of Grenfell Tower. She arrived at Grenfell Tower in the afternoon of the 13 June 2017 to visit her cousin, Amal.
Chair, you will recall the commemoration hearing of the 24th May 2018 when Amal’s nieces, Feruza and Winta, talked about the joy that Amal and her daughter Amaya brought to their family.
You will also recall the words delivered by Mohamednur’s brother, Ibrahim, who spoke about the kind and loving character of Mohamednur. Amna’s husband, Ibrahim Abdalkarim, also spoke at the hearing painting a picture of Amna’s life and the love he had for her.
Amal was born on 1 November 1982 in Sudan. She was 35 years old when she died on 14th June 2017. Amal’s father died when she was very young. It was difficult for her mother to manage her alone so Amal lived with her elder sister in Eritrea. Amal shared a bedroom with her nieces, Winta and Feruza, who she quickly came to know as her little sisters. When they had nightmares, Amal hugged them tight to squeeze the nightmares away. She cared for them and they looked up to her. Amal joined with her sisters’ family as they moved home from Eritrea to Ethiopia, then to Italy and finally to the UK, which they made their home.
Amal loved to laugh and surround herself with positive people. She did not judge others and she would help anyone regardless of their background. She learned five languages so that she would be able to communicate with as many people as possible and because she liked making new friends. Remembering her sister, Feruza has said “she taught me how precious life was.”
What Amal loved more than anything was her daughter Amaya. When Amal became pregnant with Amaya, it filled the family with joy. Amaya was born on 25th February 2014 in London. She was just 3 years old when she died on 14th June 2017.
Amaya loved music, singing and dancing which we can clearly see in the photographs earlier. We saw of Amaya and her parents at a party held at Grenfell Tower for her third birthday. That photo was just four months before the events of the 14th of June.
I am told her laugh was infectious. Her family have described how “her whole body would shake and she would jump up and down.” They remember her affectionately as a smart and somewhat cheeky child who took after her mother. They revelled watching her personality shine and develop. They were excited to see how she would grow up. Amaya’s aunt, Winta, has told the Inquiry that she held Amaya close to soothe her to sleep, like the way Amal held her when she was a child. I quote Winta who told the Inquiry “that’s how they were when they were being burnt alive: holding each other so tight, trying to squeeze the nightmare away.”
Amna was born on 1 January 1990 in Eritrea. She was aged 27 when she died on the 14th June 2017. Amna moved to the UK in March 2016, just one year before the fire, to join her husband of 4 years, Ibrahim Abdalkarim. She is dearly missed by her husband who told the Inquiry “When I talk about Amna, I feel the world is stopped. She was all my life and meaning everything to me.”
Amna loved the arts, going on walks and reading books. It was her ambition to become an arts designer. She was studying English when she died. She dreamed to complete her education to be an art designer and help others. She is remembered by Ibrahim as the light of her family who would help anyone, whether she knew them or not.
Mohamednur was born on the 24 May 1973. He was a loving partner to Amal and to his daughter, Amaya. He died aged 44 on the 14th June 2017. Mohamednur grew up with eight siblings in a small town in Eritrea. He is affectionately remembered by his family for being well-mannered, hard-working and kind. Growing up, Mohamednur was the top of his class in English, which was his favourite subject. He fled Eritrea at just 17 years old because of the risk he faced from the Eritrean government.
He moved to London in the early 1990’s to continue his education. He graduated with a Bachelors in Genetics at Queen Mary University in 1999 and a Master’s in Bioinformatics from the University of Westminster in 2004.
Mohamednur and Amal married in a religious Islamic ceremony in London in 2010. Mohamednur was a generous man who remained close to his family even when he moved to the UK. He supported his sisters, whom he regularly visited in Germany and sent money back home to his mother in Eritrea. In his final job, Mohamednur was a security guard. One of his colleagues from his workplace said that Mohamednur was “one of those rare people who brought everyone together and made the world a better place.”
Chair, I now turn to the events of the 13th and 14th June 2017. On the 13 June 2017, Amna visited her cousin, Amal, and her niece, Amaya, in Flat 166 of Grenfell Tower. Mohamednur entered the lobby of Grenfell Tower at 00:36 on the 14 June 2017. This was just 18 minutes before the call that Mr Kebede, that we are aware of, made about the fire in the kitchen of his flat on the 4th floor.
As we know, the spread of fire was such that the occupants on the higher floors were aware of its start within minutes. At 01:25, Amal’s neighbour, Meron Mekonnen, was woken by a call from her aunt who told her that there was a fire and she should leave. Meron ran out of her flat, Flat 163. She ran into the lobby of the 19th floor. On the landing, she saw Amal and Amna.
Meron recalls that there was smoke the colour of light cigarette smoke. Meron and Amal simultaneously shouted “There is a fire!” Meron told Amal that she knew about the fire and that they had to get out. The door to Amal’s flat, 166 was wide open. Amal ran back into the flat, Meron presumed, to find Amaya. This was the last time Meron saw Amal.
Meron recalls that the stairwell was lit and noticed grey smoke, which was slightly darker than in the lobby. 39. Amna followed Meron and her daughters into the stairwell and down the stairs. Meron said there were about 10 others walking down the stairwell, and she recalls that they did not get very far, perhaps to the 15th or 16th floor, when a man below them shouted in a clear English accent “Go back! Go back!” Meron had assumed that something worse was happening below them. The shout caused panic and the group began to run back upstairs. Meron and her daughters returned to the landing of the 19th floor. The door to the lobby was shut. Meron decided to ignore the advice and go back down the stairs. This one, split second decision, saved her life. The others were not so fortunate. Meron and her daughters escaped Grenfell Tower that night. She did not know what had happened to the others in the group, including Amna.
Of course Amna, Amaya and Amal are not here to tell us what happened next. Therefore, we have to turn to the evidence of Fadumo Ahmed who was the sole resident of Flat 164 on the 19th floor. 41. At 01:20, she received a call alerting her to the fire. She gathered some things and left her flat to go downstairs. When she entered the lobby it was, and I quote Fadumo: “full of dark smoke. It was thick dark grey and steamy and very hard to see through.” She said it smelt like gas and chemicals and that it burned her eyes. She saw her neighbour, Debbie Lamprell, who lived in Flat 161, as we know. Debbie told her that people were going upstairs. It sounded to Fadumo like Debbie had instructions to go upstairs. She walked up the stairs, followed by Debbie, to the 23rd floor of Grenfell Tower. She did not see anyone else on the stairs.
Fadumo said the smoke in the lobby on the 23rd floor was worse than on the 19th floor. It was, and I quote: “very dark and thick and very hard to see.” Fadumo saw a group of people standing at the door to Flat 201 on the 23rd floor, which was opposite the lift in the corner. She confirmed that this group included Amal, Amaya and Amna.
The group entered Flat 201, which was the home of Raymond Bernard. We now know that 29 people were sheltering in five flats on the 23rd floor, 10 of whom were in Flat 201. When they entered the flat, the group was crowded around the entrance and hallway. Fadumo recalls that even though there was less smoke in the flat than in the lobby, they could not speak to each other because they could barely breathe.
In the hallway of Flat 201, Fadumo noticed that there was fire outside the living room window. The window was tilted open and the top had caught fire. Fadumo and Amal went to the bathroom to bring water out and throw it on to the window.
Fadumo and Amal carried a washing bowl with water to the living room window about 3 times. Fadumo realised that it was not helping. In her written statement, she said they “were trapped with fire from one side that was starting to come in and thick smoke [from the lobby] on the other side.” In that moment, Fadumo realised that she needed to leave. She ran out of the flat into the stairwell.
Fadumo was rescued by firefighters Roberts and Gillam on the half-landing between floors 20 and 21. 48. In his evidence, when FF Gillam asked Fadumo whether anyone was left on her floor, she said no. None of the crew had asked her from which floor she had come. Fadumo’s decision to leave Flat 201 when she did, saved her life. It is not possible to say whether Amal and her daughter, Amaya, followed Fadumo out of the flat or left later.
At 01:29, 12 year-old Jessica Urbano Ramirez made a call to the emergency services. She spoke with CRO Russell of the London Fire Brigade and stated that there were 10 people in Flat 201 on the 23rd floor, including a 2 year old. This two year old is likely to have been Amaya.
About half an hour in to the call, at approximately 02:00, Jessica said “don’t leave” to someone in the room. When she was asked whether someone was leaving, Jessica said that she had been mistaken. It is possible, however, that she had been referring to Amal and Amaya’s departure.
Amal and Amaya’s remains were found in the lobby of the 23rd floor. Amaya’s remains were found by James Eaton of the London Ambulance Service went he went up to the 23rd floor of the Tower on the 16th June 2017. He said and I quote “we found a tiny body directly in front of the communal lobby door that was severely charred. I could see the bone structure, the body was crumpled and it would have been hard for people who were not looking to notice that it was a body.” She was just three years old.
Amna was identified from remains recovered from Flat 201. The Post Mortem Reports for Amaya, Amal and Amna conclude that their deaths, and I quote were “Consistent with the effects of fire.”
In his evidence to the Inquiry on 29th June 2022, Professor Purser concluded that Amna’s time of death was approximately 02:45. As for the conditions in Flat 201 he said and I quote: From a review of the transcripts of 999 calls by Debbie Lamprell and Jessica Urbano Ramirez, it is evident that they were gradually overcome by the effects of asphyxiant gases in the smoke, becoming semi-conscious and then eventually unconscious between - 02:18 to 02:21. The other occupants found in Flat 201, Raymond Bernard, Berkti Haftom, Biruk Haftom and Amna Idris are likely to have been overcome by the effects of asphyxiant gases as well. Although the occupants of Flat 201 were experiencing some heat exposure from the fire at the windows, this coincided with the period during which their level of consciousness was increasingly impaired.”
As for Amaya and Amal, Professor Purser concluded that they died between approximately 02:20 – 02:30. In his evidence, he considered it the most likely that Amal and Amaya sheltered in Flat 201 until the conditions became extreme, prompting them to leave between 02:00 and 02:10. If this was the case, they would already have accumulated a dose of asphyxiants close to that capable of causing collapse by the time they left Flat 201.
Professor Purser noted that even the effort of getting up and walking from the flat could have been sufficient to result in their immediate collapse in the lobby just outside Flat 201, where their remains were recovered.
In relation to their injuries, he said and I quote: “Amal Ahmedin and Amaya Tuccu Ahmedin collapsed and died outside flats they had been sheltering in for an extended period. For both cases there is evidence of significant and prolonged smoke exposure while in flat … 201, and it is likely that they had inhaled doses of asphyxiants while in the flats close to those causing incapacitation so that they collapsed almost immediately after entering the lobbies and then died there from asphyxia. It is possible that they also became somewhat disoriented in the lobby due to the dense smoke, and inhaled asphyxiant gases there for a short period (up to approximately 1-2 minutes) before collapsing. It is likely that … the severe combustion of the bodies of Amal Ahmedin and Amaya Tuccu Ahmed in, occurred sometime after death due to later heat in the lobbies.”
Mohamednur was in Flat 166 when the fire broke out in the Tower. He became separated from his family when he exited Flat 166 on the 19th floor and descended the Tower. The precise description of his last movements are unknown.
As you heard from Mr Danny Friedman QC this morning Mohamednur was in a lift with Rhea Rojo, Nadia Jafari, Ali Yawar Jafari, and Khadija Khalloufi.
The lift stopped and opened at the 10th floor at approximately 01:26. Rhea Rojo and Nadia Khalloufi remained in the lift and were the only people who exited when it reached the ground floor.
Mohamednur’s body was found in the lobby on Floor 10 along with the bodies Khadija Khalloufi and Ali Yawar Jafari. Mohamednur’s body was recovered from the blind corridor leading to Flat 71. Mohamednur’s body was carried out of Grenfell Tower at 02:28. He was not breathing and had no pulse.
Basic life support was provided to Mohamednur by the London Ambulance Service who conducted CPR and utilised a defibrillator but they were unable to revive him. His life was pronounced extinct at 02:37. The Post Mortem concludes that Mohamednur died of inhalation of fire fumes.
An analysis of Mohamednur’s blood detected carboxyhaemoglobin at a level of 73%. The toxicology report states that “a level of 40-50% or more is considered fatal in an otherwise healthy individual”.
In relation to his body, the Post-Mortem notes that his body was intact. There were soot deposits on his head and trousers with heavy deposits in the nostrils and on the face. There were superficial lacerations and abrasions to his forehead, nose and chin. There were additional abrasions on his left shoulder, bruising and scratches to his chest, flank and back, his elbow and leg. There was bruising of the back of the head.
The Toxicology report concludes that Mohamednur’s death occurred at an unknown point in time but it was likely relatively soon after leaving the lift at approximately 01:27.
This is consistent with evidence as Mr Friedman QC said this morning from Grenfell Tower survivor, Prossy Nalukwago, who tripped over two bodies when she evacuated from Flat 71 at some point before 01:035:03. These bodies are likely to have been those of Mohamednur and Khadija Khalloufi.
In his evidence to the Inquiry on 29th June 2022, Professor Purser said and I quote: “Mohamednur Tuccu … collapsed and then died in the 10th lobby due to inhalation of asphyxiant gases, mainly CO (carbon monoxide), but he also had a slightly elevated blood cyanide concentration (0.18 mg/L).”
Professor Purser stated that the estimated concentration of asphyxiant gases consistent with the conditions of the 10th lobby would have been sufficient to cause collapse and loss of consciousness within approximately 3 -6 minutes.
This, he said was consistent with the events of the 10th floor lobby. In relation to where Mohamednur was found, Professor Purser said and I quote “Khadija Khalloufi and Mohamednur Tuccu should have had a few minutes to find the stair door before becoming incapacitated. Since their bodies were recovered from the blind corridor leading to Flat 71, it is possible that they were attempting to reach the stair door, but in the darkness missed it and entered the corridor immediately to the right of it, where they became disorientated and trapped. The minor abrasions on their bodies may have occurred during their attempts to move around the lobby to find the stair door.”
Before the fire started just before 1am on 14 June 2017, there were four living and breathing people in Flat 166. All four of them, Amaya, Amal, Mohamednur, and Amna, suffered and died from the effects of the fire.
The impact on their families has been devastating. Winta, Amal’s sister has said: “Until this day and for the rest of my life, I will never accept that they're gone and that I will never see them again, and I will never be able to feel their warmth, their kind and loving hearts. I will continue planning Amaya's life, what she would be doing today, tomorrow, her 10th birthday, her 18th, her 21st and the rest of her life. We all miss them so much.
Amna’s husband, Ibrahim Abdalkarim, said: “I will never find someone like Amna. Now I lost the support. She was support to me at all times. Not only me, but everyone who know her. She was the light of her family.”
At the time of his brother’s death Ibrahim Toukou lived in Saudi Arabia. He said and I quote “I used to dream of us being reunited. I dreamt of us being together as brothers with our families and children. I was always praying to see him at least once after so many years, and to meet his family and have all our children together. I wanted so badly to introduce Amaya to my daughter. Even my daughter, who is now 7 years old, was very excited to see Amaya. I told my daughter ‘this is your cousin’ and everytime she saw Amaya in a picture, she would kiss the photograph. My children do not know that Mohamednur and his family have passed away; we have told the kids that they have gone away on a trip. When I heard the news of the fire, I was just praying they would be alive so we could have the chance to meet at least once as a family.