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Two Nigerians, 4 others die in London tower fire

By LEKE ADESERI with agency reports

TWO people suspected to be Nigerians, Helen Udoaka, 34, and her three-week-old daughter, Michelle, were among the six people that lost their lives in the tower block fire that occurred in London at the weekend. Five of the six victims who perished when a blaze ripped through their tower block were named by police yesterday.

The identifications came as attention focused on whether escape routes and fire prevention measures were adequate at the building, which had a single central staircase.

Three young children, including Michelle, were among those killed in the fire at the 12-storey Lakanal Flats, in Camberwell, south London. Baby Michelle Udoaka died in hospital and the body of her 34-year-old mother Helen was discovered on the 11th floor of the tower block.

Dayana Francisquini, 26, and Filipe Francisquini, three, also died in hospital.  The bodies of Catherine Hickman, 31, and an as-yet unidentified person were found on the 11th floor of the tower block. Chief superintendent Wayne Chance said: “The one further victim of this tragic incident is still to be identified. This is proving slightly more difficult as the bodies of the last three casualties still remain in the housing block.”

The cause of the fire has not yet been established and officers are treating it as suspicious, Mr Chance said. Harriet Harman, the area’s MP, said people were “asking questions” about fire escape routes at the flats. Several residents said the complicated layout of the flats made the evacuation difficult while onlookers described seeing those trapped inside screaming for help.

The blaze in Lakanal Flats in Sceaux Gardens, off Dalwood Street, in Camberwell, south London, began on the fourth floor of the 12 storey block on Friday afternoon and “spread rapidly” to the 11th floor, said London Fire Brigade.

A heavy smell of soot and smoke hung in the air as police and fire officials began their investigation into the cause of the fire.


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