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Grenfell Tower inquiry: Children told escape was an ‘adventure’

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A couple who fled Grenfell Tower told their children they were going on a “night-time adventure” as they escaped.

In a written statement to the inquiry into the blaze, Jamie Murray and Mahad Egal said they were woken up by frantic knocking from their neighbour, who lived in the flat where the fire began.

They told Zak, three, and Vega, one, they were playing the “look at the sky at night” game to stop them panicking.

The couple spoke on the first day of evidence from survivors at the inquiry.

A total of 72 people died as a result of the fire on 14 June 2017.

Ms Murray described in the statement how they covered their children’s heads with wet towels before making their escape.

“As we were lined up in our flat next to the door, Mahad was standing in front of me holding Zak [and] I was behind him holding Vega,” she said.

“I remember him saying to the children, ‘we’re going to go outside, we’re going to go play hide and seek, which is why we’re covering your heads… and then we’re going to have a night-time adventure and look at the sky and try to find Venus’.”

CCTV showed the family got out just before 01:00 BST, and then watched as the place they called their “forever home” – which they had moved into only months before – went up in flames.

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In the statement, Ms Murray said: “They say home is where the heart is and this is what I feel has been taken away from us.

“Everything apart from our lives was taken away from us – they took away my children’s comfort, they took away a part of me because I feel like I’ve changed.

“Now I just worry about what tomorrow is going to bring and whether tomorrow will come.”

Mr Egal added: “Before the fire, I had built a life for us at Grenfell Tower. We had dreams and aspirations that were shattered.

“Our lives have been destroyed.”

‘One mistake would be fatal’

Earlier, one of the last people to be rescued from the tower described how he waited for four hours to be rescued and ate porridge to keep his energy up.

Antonio Roncolato, who lived on the 10th floor for 27 years, was only alerted to the fire when his son Christopher called him at around 01:40.

After seeing a picture of the blaze from the outside, sent to him by his son, he tried to escape, but the corridors were filled with black smoke.

Mr Roncolato said: “I was stunned at this photo… then I really started to focus on how to get out of the tower alive.

“I knew that one mistake would be fatal. “

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PA

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Antonio Roncolato lived in Grenfell Tower for 27 years

Mr Roncolato’s son told a fire marshal his father’s location, and he was told to “stay put” as the fire was not near his flat.

Feeling reassured, he said he called his boss to tell him he would not be in for work later that day.

“I kept thinking if I remained calm and acted rationally that I would come out of this alive.”

It wasn’t until 06:00 that two firefighters knocked on his door and helped him get out of the block.

In his statement, Mr Roncolato said the fire had “devastated the entire community”.

“We have lost everything, including our homes and all our memories and possessions,” he said. “There is nothing left.

“I was one of the lucky ones, especially after being trapped for so long.”

‘There were still people suffering’

Maria De Fatima Alves also gave evidence to the inquiry and provided a written statement, describing the guilt she felt after escaping from the blaze.

Mrs Alves, who had lived in a flat on the 13th floor for 18 years, got out of the building at 01:00 and watched from a friend’s home as the tower burned.

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PA

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CCTV showed Mrs Alves getting out of a lift and leaving the building

She told the inquiry: “I still think about what I could’ve done more.

“I often wonder if I had stayed at the tower and buzzed people to wake them up and get them out whether more lives could have been saved.

“This guilt haunts me.”

Survivors of the fire, along with those who lost loved ones and others who lived nearby, will be giving evidence to the inquiry for around a month.

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